Nov 9, 2021, 13:00 PM
It seems incredible that on the cusp of 2022, with world leaders committing to major new climate targets, a significant proportion of Melbourne’s e-waste still winds up being dumped – often leaking harmful chemicals – into our city’s landfill.
From November 8th, a new partnership between the City of Melbourne, Sustainability Victoria, Citywide and Good Cycles will roll out a new kerb-side collection service for conscientious city residents to responsibly dispose of small quantities of e-waste.
Eligible items will include most smaller electronic devices, from laptops and tablets, to phones, batteries, computer accessories, modems, kettles, toasters, hairdryers, and old plugs and cables.
If successful, the trial will form the foundation for a long-term collection service to support the proper processing and reuse of e-waste – which although banned from Victoria’s landfill in 2019 and the subject of several free recycling services, still forms a significant part of our regular waste streams.
The Australia-first trial will run for eight weeks across the inner city, from Docklands to Parkville and Kensington to Carlton, where small e-waste items will be picked up by a fleet of cargo bicycles operated by Citywide’s long-term social enterprise partner, Good Cycles.
The bicycles will then rendezvous with the small Citywide trucks that for the past two years have been collecting e-waste from libraries and office buildings around the city.
“Up to now, taking an old toaster or kettle down to the Dynon Road transfer station or the local library has been a real pain for city residents,” says Citywide’s Innovation Manager, Liam Crowley. “E-waste far too often finds its way into general waste, even though it’s not legal. If a device has batteries in it, it poses a serious fire risk in waste trucks, transfer stations and landfill sites – not to mention leaching chemicals into the soil and groundwater.”
The idea of a separate e-waste collection may once have seemed prohibitively expensive, but Liam and colleagues Shauna Boyle and Jeni Jackson realised that efficient and environmentally friendly collections could be conducted by the ‘Good Cyclists’ who pick up recycling and green waste from the cafés in Melbourne’s laneways.
“We really hope people will use this service, because if there’s a good uptake there’ll be a greater chance of having a collection service for residents,” says Liam. “As we all know, a lot of these devices are not built to last – so it’s really important to provide a proper collection service for them so that they can enter a proper recycling stream and form part of our circular economy.”
Citywide has set up a special online portal where residents can book their e-waste pickups, either on the doorstep or contactless from the kerb-side. Melbourne City Council is also offering free e-waste bins to residents living in blocks of 20 apartments or more, and has established drop-off points at North Melbourne Library, East Melbourne Library and Boyd Community Hub on Southbank.
The City of Melbourne’s e-waste collection trial will run until January 12th in the following postcodes: 3051, 3054, 3050, 3010, 3052, 3031, 3032, 3003, 3008, 3000 and 3053.
To book an e-waste collection online, please visit: https://ewastecom.citywide.com.au/
Additional tips for minimising your e-waste: https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/recycling-and-reducing-waste/at-home/recycling-at-home/e-waste/minimise-your-e-waste