As the number of computers being sold in Ballarat increases, so too does the issue of e-waste.
With limited opportunities in Australia to recycle computer equipment via kerbside recycling, the corporate sector has stepped up to become part of the solution.
Through the Officeworks Bring IT Back program, Ballarat residents have saved more than 72,000 kilograms of computer equipment — the weight equivalent of 14 fully grown elephants or 70 cars — from landfill.
One of two trial stores across Australia for the Bring IT Back program in the past four years, Officeworks Ballarat has been receiving up to three pallets a week of old, unwanted equipment, from mouse pads to hard drives.
Following its successful trial, the computer recycling program has now been officially launched and expanded to 10 stores nationally
Officeworks sustainability co-ordinator Lok-Man Shu said the idea for the program grew out of a need to offer a solution for the disposal of their products.
“It’s about being a good citizen,” he said.
“When you look at kerbside recycling, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to recycle these products.”
A national e-waste recycling scheme began this year to provide access to free collection and recycling services for computers, printers, televisions, and other electronics.
The federal government says scheme recycling drop-off points and recycling events will gradually roll out over the next 18 months in areas in metropolitan, regional and remote Australia, and aims to boost the recycling rate for television and computer products to 80 per cent by 2021-22.
Ballarat has not yet been included in the scheme.
Officeworks Ballarat technology manager Brad Kierce said the success of the Bring IT Back trial was indicative of the high level of social and environmental responsibility demonstrated by customers. Mr Kierce said the computers were crushed and recycled to make new products.
“It’s great to have that option and it wasn’t there when we started out,” he said.
Store manager Kael Aisbett, said the team was excited to be one of the first Officeworks stores collecting computer products, monitors and printers from local residents.