Judging by how many share house disputes around putting coffee cups in the right bin or rinsing out tuna cans I’ve witnessed (and been part of), it’s clear that many of us get a little confused when it comes to recycling.
And then there’s E-waste, which, frankly, nobody ever knows what to do with. We all know we’re supposed to do something with our old laptops or phones, but if you’re like me, that mostly means just holding onto them for a couple of years before eventually just throwing them in the trash.
That’s really, really bad news: according to Clean Up Australia, E-waste is responsible for 70% of the toxic chemicals in landfills, despite the fact most of our E-waste can actually be recycled. And E-waste is on the rise — it’s the fastest growing waste type across the globe.
Concerned about the impact on Australia’s climate, Acer commissioned the Acer Plastic Pandemic Report, looking at E-waste and plastic waste across Australia to find ways to improve our efforts. Acer has also just launched the Aspire Vero. This green-pioneer laptop uses 30% post-consumer recycled plastics to save 21% in CO2 emissions, and is designed to be easily repaired, recycled and upgraded.
So what can we do to help? Here are a few ways to reduce your E-waste footprint.
This one’s obvious, but it’s worth stating. Acer’s report revealed that close to 11 million Australians (a whopping 55%) aren’t aware of just how damaging the plastic pandemic is — over 3.4 million tonnes of plastics are used in Australia each year, and less than 10% of that is recycled or repurposed.
There is some good news here: Acer also found that 96% of those surveyed were concerned about their individual plastic use impacting the world, which means people are keen to change. 25% of respondents said they’re trying to no longer buy single-use plastics, and half of the respondents said they search for sustainable options where possible when purchasing.
Educating yourself around how to recycle plastics and E-waste properly is key, so you can actually make the difference you want to make.
Local council sites will have plenty of ways to do so in your area (here’s a guide from the National Government, too, which lists government-accredited programs), whether that be by organising a pick-up for E-waste or finding a local drop-off point in select stores.
Here’s the City of Sydney’s site as an example, but recycling changes from council to council, so best to check your local site. In terms of soft plastics, REDcycle is a national program with drop-offs at major supermarkets, with a clear list of things they do and don’t accept.
And in order to help, Acer is currently partnering with Harvey Norman and E-Cycle Solutions (which is government-accredited) to extract over 3 million kilograms of reusable e-waste, recycling parts from your old tech for reuse.
We all know that a single-use plastic bag isn’t ideal, but reducing use goes beyond the obvious. Plastic and e-waste often comes from throwing away materials that you yourself could reuse, whether that’s repairing a cracked screen or packaging you could repurpose or refill.
Reusables come in materials big and small, which is why Acer’s latest laptop uses standard hardware screws, to encourage users to upgrade or repair their laptops rather than buy a whole new system.
From swapping out plastic pegs to steel ones, using beeswax wraps or buying eco-friendly washing detergent, it’s possible to buy sustainable in all areas big and small. It all comes back to research.
In terms of electronic goods, look at whether the company has a carbon offset program and whether the product is made via recycled materials. If you’re in the market for a laptop, the Aspire Vero ticks the boxes. The green PC was recently launched as part of Acer’s larger Earthion initiative for a greener planet.