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Australian green scheme makes e-waste history

Free vendor-agnostic recycling in 12-month pilot

A recycling campaign across the Australian state of Victoria could spell the end of e-waste as landfill.

GREEN COMPUTING & PC RECYCLING MADE EASY

The campaign, organised by the AIIA (Australian Information Industry Association), will offer free vendor-agnostic recycling for business and individuals across the state of Victoria for 12 months as part of an industry-led initiative to salvage some of the 1.6 million computers dumped annually.

AIIA CEO Sheryle Moon said the pilot will be used to lobby the federal government to mandate compulsory nationwide e-waste recycling.

"We have engaged Sustainability Victoria (a Victorian government environmental initiative), the federal government's Australian Greenhouse Office and the Department of Communications, IT and the Arts (DCITA) and many levels of federal government to push the idea nationally," Moon said.

"The federal and state governments have been very receptive to the idea and, together with our state [AIIA chapters], they are waiting on the results to deploy the campaign across Australia.

"The pilot has begun initial work and will be launched as a national-first later this month where it will run for about 12 to 18 months." She said the "top 10 IT equipment manufacturers" will participate and financially back the project, which will collect all brands of IT equipment.

Moon shrugged off suggestions that industry nonparticipants may gain financial benefits over those contributing to the campaign, noting that recycling "has benefits for everyone regardless of regulation or contractual environments".

The pilot, drawn up over the past six months, is an extension of an 18-month e-waste recycling campaign between the AIIA, the Victorian government and a few industry members, which has added additional drop-off sites and broadened the project's scope to accept all e-waste materials.

Moon said while state ministerial reshuffles have slowed the launch, federal and state governments have embraced the idea, which is part of the AIIA's "greening of the industry".

A spokesperson for one of the pilot's participants, who did not wish to be named, rejected the concept of introducing a tax levy on the sale or manufacture of IT equipment to facilitate recycling, arguing his company has run successful recycling campaigns for about two years.

"[Our recycling campaigns] take back our own products for free and recycle other brand name products, so I would not support a tax in principle," he said.

He said "historical e-waste" such as discontinued or generic equipment is a bigger problem for recycling because it accounts for about 75 percent of the total e-waste dumped each year.

He said industry, government and users have a responsibility to employ initiatives, regulatory frameworks and purchase environmentally friendly IT products.


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