The idea of an e-waste free Australia was a hot topic at this year’s Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo, as the country’s leading experts called for greater cohesion between the industry, government and the community to assist with overcoming this growing problem.
Speaking to a packed room as part of the ‘E-waste futures’ panel discussion, John Gertsakis of Infoactiv opened the session with comments that there is a proliferation of e-waste in Australia that the waste industry needs better strategies to deal with.
Despite ongoing improvements in e-waste recycling practices in Australia, panellists spoke of how the country was lagging behind its counterparts while Europe leads the way after creating a sense of shared responsibility between manufacturers, government and the community.
Rebecca Brown from the Western Australian Local Government Association called for new legislation to shift the onus back on to manufacturers and to set new standards for the quality of electronic goods produced, rather than relying solely on product stewardship and recycling.
Panellists also called for greater leadership at a government level, as aspiring to be e-waste free would create jobs, business opportunities and investment in infrastructure.
On the exhibition floor of AWRE, e-waste featured heavily, with MobileMuster creating a dynamic installation out of 570 old mobile handsets and 500 circuit boards to replicate an Australian Rules football field.
The 570 phones represented the 5.7 million unused mobile phones in storage across Victoria, which is enough phones to cover the surface of the MCG one and a half times. If recycled, it would divert 985 tonnes of e-waste from landfill, which would have the same environmental impact of planting 30,000 trees.
AWRE was held over two-days and was attended by more than 1700 key industry professionals, making it the most successful show in the event’s six-year history. This was reinforced with 78 per cent of the 2015 exhibitors already committed to returning to the 2016 show.
AWRE organisers Diversified Communications concluded the event with the announcement that they have an in principle agreement with the Waste Management Association of Australia to host the association’s Enviro Conference at AWRE from 2016.
The first co-located AWRE and Enviro Conference is proposed to take place in Sydney in July, 2016. For more information visit www.awre.com.au