Recycling in Australia
Australians have been encouraged as being some of the best recyclers in the world but there recycling performance is pretty dismal when compared to countries such as Sweden, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. Whilst statistics show that recycling in Australia has grown extensively in the past decade our national recycling rate remains around 52 per cent of household waste.
One of the challenges to increase recycling rates is to change behaviour. Programs like RecycleSmart aim to increase recycling rates through education and providing incentives to recycle through a reward system. This innovative program works with local councils and workplaces to change behaviour and reward participants to recycle more consciously.
One of the fastest growing household waste streams is electronic or e-waste, which includes computer, TV and mobile phone products. The facts show that computer and TV waste, is growing three times faster than any other type of waste as Australian's continually upgrade and increase their usage of electronic products.
According to MobileMuster the collection and recycling rate of mobile phones has grown considerable in the past decade from 18 percent in 2006 to just over 51 per cent of available mobile phones today . The recycling rate for old and unwanted computer and TV products is considerably lower at 17 per cent of waste generated.
However the new National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, which is funded and run by the industry, is expected to boost the recycling rate of e-waste. It commenced in 2012 and continues to roll out collection events and ongoing drop-off points, providing free e-waste recycling in Australia. The Schemes recycling targets will progressively increase each year, reaching 80 per cent of waste generated by 2021-22.
The recycling process for e-waste increases the amount of valuable materials recovered from mobile phones, televisions and computers, as well as reducing the amount of materials (including hazardous substances) entering the environment. By improving our knowledge of what can be recycled and where they can be recycled we can all contribute to a more positive environmental future and increase Australia's recycling rate.
For more information on collection facilities for other e-waste products visit the PlanetArk where you can search for the drop-off locations in your local area.
 ABS, Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends