One of the larger problems with business eWaste management is the lack of knowledge about how to navigate environmental issues without it taking up too much time or expense, however, organisations such as Planet Ark have embraced the global office waste predicament with foresight, making it easier for business owners to be proactive and ethical with technology consumption.
eWaste approaches that are less eConscious
- Household Rubbish: This is the easiest option but poses the most environmental risk as it means that electronic waste is mixed with landfill and will never be broken down properly.
- Hard rubbish: Check with your local council about hard rubbish listings and clarify whether the collected items go to a proper eRecycling depot. Some suburban hard rubbish collections may only take eWaste to local landfills – this is problematic for the socially responsible business owner wanting to dispose of their old office equipment ecologically.
But isn’t it cheaper just to buy a new printer?
You’ve run out of cyan ink for your one year old LaserJet which you bought for $120 and you’ve just seen it on special in the post office for $59. Isn’t it cheaper just to buy a whole new printer rather than replace the cartridge? Isn’t the incentive on saving by purchasing a whole new printer rather than replace the cartridge? Yes, however, the immediate saving of $60 is only a thumbprint in the global landfill eWaste crisis, and printer cartridges are highly toxic products to break down in recycling.
Buying recycled cartridges for your original printer is the best way to extend the life of your current printer whilst being mindful of its environmental impact. If you are worried about the costly expense of printer cartridge replacement, look online at wholesale recycled cartridge options as these are generally cheaper and are more environmental than the branded competition.
The international eWaste predicament
What most people may not be realise is that an undisclosed amount of Australia’s electronic waste goes offshore to developing countries, yet often with the lack of technological support in these regions they need to dispose of the equipment and cannot properly break down these items in their environment. In worst case scenarios they are picked apart by children in hazardous conditions;
“Many old products are exported to developing countries. Although the benefits of reusing electronics in this way are clear, the practice is causing serious problems because the old products are dumped after a short period of use in areas that are unlikely to have hazardous waste facilities,” (Greenpeace, 2012).
It also poses a problem for the natural surroundings that the eWaste has been dumped in as it leads to soil contamination which bleeds into water ways and affects neighbouring communities in the long term.
Small businesses are just as accountable for their environmental footprint as larger organisations. Instead of thinking about eWaste recycling procedures as time consuming and cost-enduring tasks, consider the opportunities that your business has to promote the environmental arm of your brand.
It might be a good marketing opportunity to put an article on your website or eNews about how your business is participating in eWaste prevention. Perhaps it is a good opportunity to reach out to organisations such as Planet Ark and let them know that your small business is participating in the RecyclingNearYou program – you may be able to put their logo on your website as some cross promotion.
Whichever activity you use to engage with eWaste prevention as a small business owner, use it to your advantage and adopt an eConscious and proactive attitude.
“There’s more to eWaste than just printer cartridges and computers, and there are many other eWaste products that could be recycled in the workplace. Specifically designed for Australian businesses, BusinessRecycling.com.au lists national and local re-use and recycling options for around 90 materials used in the workplace. There’s never been a better time to bring your recycling habits to work,” comments Planet Ark Recycling Campaigns manager Janet Sparrow.
In the first series of the Small Business Success series AAMI presents instalment ten: ‘Growing technology vs. expanding eWaste’ Part Two. This article is presented by Australian Associated Motor Insurers Ltd (AAMI, ABN 92 004 791 744), the issuer of AAMI property insurance products