Environment Victoria and the Total Environment Centre (TEC) today launched a campaign and website to call on Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett to introduce a national electronic waste recycling scheme to stop old toxic TVs, computers and mobile phones being dumped into landfill.
The call for action comes days before State and Federal Environment Ministers are due to meet for the bi-annual Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) meeting where they will discuss the issue of recycling electronic waste or e-waste as it is commonly known.
Fraser Brindley from Environment Victoria said e-waste was the fastest growing waste stream in Australia and was only going to get worse with the switch to digital technology next year.
“E-waste is toxic and should not be thrown into landfill. Old TVs and computer monitors each contain more than a kilogram of lead which is poisonous and can leak from rubbish tips into our environment. With approximately168 million pieces of e-waste already in landfill, this is already a huge problem,” he said.
“Keeping e-waste out of landfill is not rocket science but state and federal governments have been procrastinating for years on the issue. They are lagging behind others including the European Union who introduced a ‘take back’ scheme for e-waste six years ago.
“Introducing a recycling scheme for e-waste will also boost the economy. The government could potentially create 210 jobs in Victoria and more than 850 nationwide. There are other benefits too, check out our new website www.reborn.org.au launched today for more information.”
TV and IT industry groups, including Product Stewardship Australia (PSA) which represents a dozen leading television manufacturers, also support a nation-wide take-back and recycling scheme for e-waste.
PSA’s executive officer John Gertsakis said manufacturers are eager to see the development and enforcement of effective regulations to ensure that all consumer electronics companies and TV suppliers fulfil their environmental and recycling responsibilities.
This historic agreement between environment groups and the electronics industry association means that a recycling levy in the price of products can and must happen said TEC’s director, Jeff Angel.
“The environmental and economic credentials of state and federal governments will be on trial at the EPHC meeting in Hobart this Friday,” he said.
“Government can’t afford – economically, environmentally or politically – to be the odd man out. We can create jobs, recover valuable resources and avoid the dumping of hundreds of millions of electronic items in landfill. The level of public support is high and the community wants action.”