Electronic waste: the local government perspective in Queensland, Australia
The term e-waste is unilaterally used to describe both electronic and electrical wastes, that is, any items which rely on an electric current or electromagnetic fields in order to operate and contain a hard-drive or significant electronic components and/or a printed circuit board. According to UNEP, waste from electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) is becoming a significant component of the waste stream, increasing at a rate of 3-5% per annum, outstripping the general growth of the municipal waste stream. The advances in both hardware and software leading to rapid obsolescence have fuelled this growth. This means that electronic and electrical wastes are a significant proportion of the Local Government's waste management role and budget. Increasingly, smaller and cheaper electronic items are being all too easily disposed of in municipal waste systems and this, coupled with an increase in the number of, and turnover of manufacturers and suppliers to the market, may see Local Governments assuming a key role in the future of e-waste management. A survey of local Councils within Queensland was undertaken in order to determine the current level of understanding and action on e-waste, and to solicit key responses regarding the identification of areas where improvements could be made. For example, the rationalisation of preferred initiatives for future legislative and funding mechanisms. The survey achieved a response rate of 23%, which accounted for 74% of Queensland's population due to the spatial distribution of inhabitants to the major cities and coastal communities. Survey results identified key barriers experienced by Councils regarding the collection and treatment of e-wastes as being cost and geographical distances between source of generation (households) and the limited number of specialist reprocessors. The survey was endorsed by the Local Government Associations of Queensland and Central Queensland who aided the promotion of the survey, which was hosted on the Griffith University e-waste web page (www.griffith.edu.au/ewaste).
Resources, Conservation and Recycling