University leads the field in recycling e-waste

Eco, the University's mascot for environmental sustainability. Photo Brett Sheridan.

Eco, the University's mascot for environmental sustainability. Photo Brett Sheridan.
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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Almost 20 tonnes of electronic waste - including old computers, scrap metal and plastic - have been recycled by the University of Adelaide this year in a bid to reduce its environmental footprint.

The University is taking a lead among the State's educational institutions by contracting E-Cycle Recovery at Gepps Cross to recycle any obsolete and unwanted electronic items instead of disposing them in landfill.

The items included more than 10.5 tonnes of copper, steel and aluminium, and close to one tonne of lead from 300 televisions and computer monitors, which can cause health and environmental problems when buried in landfill.

The University's Environmental Projects Officer, Mathew Jeffrey, said the University had extended the life of the natural resources by recycling the electronic equipment.

"The glass collected from our North Terrace and Waite campuses has been recycled to make new television screens with lower energy, the plastic has been recycled into items such as fence posts and plastic railway sleepers, and all the other metals have gone into the manufacturing industry for car parts.

"We have a range of programs in place to reduce the amount of electronic items purchased and, in some cases, reuse them. However, some equipment cannot be reused and in this case, recycling of the equipment achieves the highest possible environmental outcome," Mr Jeffrey said.

Michelle Morton from E-Cycle Recovery congratulated the University on its initiative to tackle the growing problem of electronic waste head-on.

"As a society we keep talking about the importance of a sustainable environment, but then we go and bury these hazardous materials which can't be re-used again and we have to mine for new materials.

"This recycling approach makes better use of our resources and also extends the life of our landfills," she said.

The Federal Government this month agreed to a new national waste policy which outlines a goal by 2020 to reduce and manage all waste in an "environmentally safe, scientific and sound manner".

In 2008, Australians dumped 14.7 million electronic products in landfill, with some companies illegally shipping e-waste to countries outside of Australia.

"Electronic waste is often sold to developing countries for recycling, but many of these cultures have no environmental protection or occupational health and safety regulations," Mr Jeffrey said.

For more details about the University's Sustainable Adelaide program visit


Contact Details

Mr Mathew Jeffrey
Environmental Projects Officer
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3763
Mobile: 0404 194 150

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762