We're often asked how you can actually recycle various office products, especially those made from more problematic, conventional materials. While it isn't always possible due to the type of materials used or the lack of recycling facilities in Australia for these materials, we'd like to make a start by listing some products and solutions.
If you know of ways to recycle particular products, let us know and join the conversation!
Here's a new resource for managing and reducing office waste: it's a free eBook from The Fifth Estate. While it focuses on NSW developments and larger businesses, there are useful case studies and tips for all. Topics include paper waste & recycling, plastics, coffee cups, ewaste, food waste, and more. Just released and up-to-date. Check it out!
The Guide is sponsored by the EPA NSW and is a free eBook in a series about Greening Your Office.
The Fifth Estate is Australia’s leading business newspaper for the sustainable built environment and the people and issues that surround...
The NSW government recently announced that it intends introducing a Cash for Containers scheme to start in 2017 and to decide on a recycling model for containers (eg by introducing a 10c deposit as in SA) by March next year. At least 800 reverse vending machines would be installed at parks, popular beaches and public spaces by July 1, 2017
A Reverse Vending Machine or RVM allows people to insert their empty cans or drink bottles and redeem rewards or cash (currently in SA and NT only). You can insert your empty PET bottle or aluminium cans in the machine in return for either cash or rewards such as in-store chances to win prizes. Unfortunately glass bottles are not included in the rvm concept for NSW.
Some Councils, Supermarkets and Universities have already installed RVMs around the country.
People in NSW will soon be able to claim a 10c refund on their empty drinks bottles and cans. This is as a result of the NSW government decision to at last introduce a cash for containers scheme, like the one that has run so successfully in SA for so many years. Greenpeace reports that this will prevent millions of plastic containers from ending up in our forests, beaches, rivers and oceans.
This will create a cleaner Australia, and one that’s kinder on our birds and animals. Plastic litter can be deadly for seabirds and other marine life, which is what makes this win so important.
Congratulations to all the groups who have worked so hard for this, including Australian Marine Conservation Society, The Boomerang Alliance, Total Environment Centre, Greenpeace, Two Hands Project, Take 3, Friends of the Earth, Tangaroa Blue, Responsible Runners and Surfrider Foundation Australia.
Ink jet printers are now the most commonly used printers, both in homes and small offices. They tend to be cheap to buy but very, very costly to run. As Choice magazine found in 2011: “Our .. tests of inkjet printers showed the ownership cost of some printers over three years can be many times the purchase price, simply due to the exorbitant cost of ink replacement.”
There are basically 2 ways to try to reduce printer cartridge cost: either buy cheaper Chinese ‘compatible cartridges’ - this is ‘easy’ but leads to lots of quickly emptied and discarded plastic cartridges – or buy ‘Refillers’ which allow you to refill your existing original printer cartridges with good new ink. This can be done many times, thus saving resources and landfill from all those plastic cartridges.
Choice found in 2011: “DIY ink refills can be much cheaper than original cartridges when measured on a cost per millilitre (mL) basis. We tried out a do-it-yourself refill kit from Calidad, for the Epson Stylus Office TX510N and cut black ink cost per page to a fifth and four-colour page costs to less than half that of an original cartridge.”
Further comments by Choice re the Refill method: “We...
What happens to all those printer cartridges in homes and offices after the ink or toner runs out? Did you know that most of them are just thrown away after use? That’s more than 18 million cartridges and accessories in Australia each year! This amounts to over 5,000 tonnes of material, including laser toner cartridges, inkjet cartridges, photocopier toner bottles, print heads, fax rolls and drums, that will eventually end up in landfill.
Printer cartridges (both ink and toner or ‘laser’ cartridges) are made up of a complex combination of plastics, metals, foam, ink and/or toner. Throwing them away means they end up in landfill which is a waste of resources and adds to the problem of electronic waste and groundwater pollution. By recycling your cartridges you are helping to reduce this waste and save water, energy and resources.
But with just a little effort you can make sure that your printer cartridges are reused, remanufactured or recycled:
You may be surprised that only around half of the 14 billion drink containers we use each year in Australia are recycled. The rest are either thrown away as litter or end up in landfill!
Environment Ministers will soon decide on how stop these billions of beverage containers being landfilled or littered. A container deposit system is a proven way to reduce this waste - it's been operating successfully in South Australia for 30 years and has made the state a leader with a recycling rate of 83%, double the national average. For more background, here's a link to a really informative ABC 7.30 Report on the issues.
What can you do?
From the Boomerang Alliance: The beverage industry have launched a major advertising campaign calling cash for containers a tax. If you want to get really angry - check out...
Batteries are everywhere! In all sorts of home appliances and in offices: remotes, clocks, timers, smoke alarms, torches, weather stations, toys, power tools, cordless phones, laptops, mobile phones and more. But what can you do with them at the end of their lives? It’s been one of the most difficult recycling questions for decades – leading to millions of batteries simply going to landfill - but now there are at least some recycling options available, even if there is still no official national recycling scheme in place.
There are a wide range of battery types - Single-use batteries are usually alkaline batteries with Zinc, Manganese or Lithium chemistry. Rechargeable batteries are commonly Nickel Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride or Lithium Ion. Rechargeable batteries are found in the same shapes and voltage as single-use batteries, as well as specifically designed for laptops, mobile phones and electronic equipment. None of these battery types should be placed in the garbage bin – but they so often are. Each year, more than 300 million household batteries are thrown away with ordinary waste, according to Planet Ark. They estimate a staggering 8,000 tonnes of batteries (and...
Flat screen TVs and monitors now rule at home and in the office, but what is happening with the hundreds of thousands of old cathode ray TVs and monitors, old plasma and LCD screens and old PCs that have been thrown out by Australians in the past year or two?
Until a year ago there was very little local recycling available for these products and much of the eWaste ended up being exported to SE Asia for dismantling (often in sub-standard or dangerous conditions) or in Australian landfill.
But now Australians across the country can recycle their unwanted e-waste for free, with the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme being available in every state and territory.
What can be recovered and recycled from eWaste? Much of what's used to make computers can be recycled, yet more than 1.5 million are dumped in Australian landfill each year. Their re-usable materials include ferrous (iron-based) and non-ferrous metals, glass and various types of plastic. Almost 99% of the components that make up a PC can be recycled. By recycling we can avoid serious toxins, chemicals and heavy metals from going to landfill and polluting the environment.
There are now over 380...