Electrical waste (e-waste) in Australia is growing problem and a national waste priority. Electrical appliances and batteries contain many valuable but toxic components and should be diverted from landfill through reuse or recycling.
Electrical Appliances - Battery Operated
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Battery operated electrical appliances such alarm clocks, cameras and portable radios are forms of e-waste, which is a growing problem worldwide and is a national waste priority. An increase in ownership of electrical appliances and changing technology results in large quantities of electronics being discard to landfill. Much of this waste is in working condition and could be reused. Electrical appliances are made up of a number of different components, many of which are hazardous waste. Heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic as well as flame-retardants can cause environmental contamination through leaching from e-waste in landfill into water systems. Batteries used in appliances (single-use and rechargeable) also contain harmful metals and most are classified hazardous waste. By recycling this contamination can be avoided and these materials can be recovered for reuse in new materials.
Australia does not currently have a national e-waste recycling scheme. There are collection programs operating or coming soon for some products such as mobile phones, computers and printer cartridges. Please see these categories for more information.
There a number of commercial recyclers who offer e-waste recycling services as well as independent companies that recycle, refurbish or reuse electrical appliances & accessories in Australia.
There are also a number of recycling and safe disposal programs accepting single use and rechargeable batteries.
What Happens When It's Recycled?
Electrical appliances are dismantled and put through several delicate processes in order to recover around 95% of materials. The raw material recovered, such as glass, copper, plastics and metals, can then be processed and then put to good use in the production of new materials.
Batteries are collected, sorted into their types and components then sent to licensed recycling facilities for processing. Recycling battery components is a complex and expensive process due to the chemistry involved. Plastics and metals such as mercury and silver from single use batteries and recycled nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion components in rechargeable batteries can all be recovered and recycled.