Friday, November 17, 2006

Why create "e-waste" mountains - Freecycle It!

NOVEMBER 17, 2006

Australians are building mountains of "E-waste" as they dispose of redundant computers and update loungeroom peripherals. A report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows e-waste - discarded computers and electronic goods - is growing three times faster than regular waste as Aussies rush to upgrade their beloved computers. Australians buy nearly 2.5 million new computers each year.

If you do the maths: An old hard drive is roughly .04 cubic metres. Add the non-flat screen monitor, occupying perhaps .08 cubic metres of space - which totals: .12 cubic metres of computer gear per old PC. Multiply this by the number of PCs discarded per year in Australia (1.6 million) and we have roughly, conservatively, around 185,600 cubic metres of plastic, metal, glass and stuff per year piling up somewhere.

But there are alternatives to binning the PC...

Australians are recycling nearly half their waste, but are facing a major - or "e-waste" challenge, according to the latest national snapshot of environmental issues and trends.

Australians are some of the highest users of new technology in the world. The Bureau of Statistics say E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste types and the problem of e-waste is global. Recent figures show that each year, Australians buy more than 2.4 million personal computers and more than one million televisions.

However, the non-bleeping stockpile of discarded, used, obsolete and redundant electronic products keeps growing.

Official figures now estimate Australia, a country of 20 million people, will have discarded or stockpiled a total of 8.7 million computers by the end of 2006. The problem is compounded by the large number of Australians who keep ancient PCs in cupboards and sheds.

The Bureau of Statistics said Australians buy nearly 2.5 million new computers each year. It estimates Australians will replace 9 million computers, 5 million printers and 2 million scanners within the next two years.

The Australian Information Industry Association say industry was working towards more recycling. Some businesses already recycle old computers, returning old machines back when a person buys a new one, while a small number of old but working computers are exported.

The ABS estimate that in Australia, in 2006, there will be around 1.6 million computers disposed of in landfill, another 1.8 million in storage (in addition to the 5.3 million already gathering dust in garages and other storage areas) and half a million recycled.

E-waste in Australia is estimated to be growing at more than three times the rate of domestic waste from households and other council waste.

But there are alternatives...

The burgeoning Freecycle Network, an online recycling organisation, is made up of thousands of individuals and groups across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who give & gett stuff for free in their locales.

Each local Freecycle email group is moderated locally. Membership is free and simple. The Network started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson's downtown and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills.

The global website and email network provides individuals and non-profits an electronic forum to "recycle" unwanted items - including computers, which from experience, go very fast.

On Freecycle, everything posted must be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages. The Freecycle Network is open to all communities and to all individuals who want to participate.

"Freecycle groups are moderated by local volunteers from across the globe who facilitate each local group - grassroots at its best!"


Australian Bureau of Statistics:

E-Waste A Growing Concern In Australia
Australia faces e-waste mountain
ABS: Environment snapshot: recycling up, but e-waste a looming issue - November 2006
FREECYCLE - changing the world one gift at a time
Electronic waste - Wikipedia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have discovered an alternative to Freecycle.
I-recycle is not using the Yahoo platform.