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What Happens to E-Waste?

Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Each household has at least one box of old electronics lying around – much like that box full of cables that you can’t bring yourself to chuck out. You might not be purposely collecting old electronics like laptops and phones, but if you’re like most people, you have no idea what to do with them. You might also be concerned about data safety. So you just end up keeping them for years.

With millions of televisions, computers and mobile phones discarded in Australia each year, you might be wondering what happens to them? Do they end up in landfill? Read on to find out what happens to E-waste!

Where does E-waste end up?

In 2011, the Federal Government implemented a program (NTCRS) to collect and reuse electronics from companies that import or manufacture more than 5000 devices per year. Through this scheme, the companies help recover end-of-life products and divert them from landfill. These products end up being recycled.


What about household e-waste?

As you might know already, electronics are categorized as household hazardous waste and cannot be placed in regular bins or skip bins. So you won’t be able to gather all of them and hire a bin to get rid of them!

The good news is that there are over 1800 collection points across the country where you can drop off your unwanted TVs, phones, laptops and other electronics. They are then dismantled by material type – plastics, glass, circuit boards, batteries and so on.

The recycling of different parts is more of a global effort instead of a local one.

The circuit boards are sent to Japan, where a chemical process is used to recover precious metals like gold, silver or copper. The batteries are sent to Korea, where they are recycled and substances like lithium and cadmium are recovered. Steel, copper and aluminium are processed in Australia, while a fair portion of plastics is sent in China.

“Is my computer data safe?”

This is one of the main concerns when it comes to throwing away laptops and computers. You might be worried about your computer data and how it’s handled – you wouldn’t want anyone to gain access to it!

You can rest assured there’s no data security issue to be concerned about when it comes to recycling. All the elements of an electronic device are dismantled and destroyed. This means the data is wiped away as well.

The situation is very different if you’re donating the computer or laptop. Then you would want to make sure you erase everything on the hard drive. There are companies that specialise in this and can offer you a wiping certificate as well.

“What should I do with my old smartphone?”

Mobile phones are recycled through Mobile Muster, a voluntary scheme established 20 years ago. As the process is similar with computer recycling, no need to worry about your data. The pieces are dismantled and sent off for material recovery.

If you want to be extra cautious, it’s not a bad idea to erase everything on your phone by either manually deleting and logging out of any apps or doing a factory reset. But if it’s broken and you can’t turn it on, don’t worry about it. Everything will be destroyed.

Recycling electronic waste is very important, as most devices can be repurposed into new ones. For most other types of waste, make sure to get in touch and order the best skip bins in Armadale and the Southern Suburbs.