‘E’ for effort: Lismore City Council waste and water education officer Kevin Trustum keeps 150 tonnes of electronic waste out of landfill by sending it to Brisbane to be recycled.
‘E’ for effort: Lismore City Council waste and water education officer Kevin Trustum keeps 150 tonnes of electronic waste out of landfill by sending it to Brisbane to be recycled. Jay Cronan

E-waste at tip not a nice picture

ALONG with the ubiquitous broken armchair and old mattress, unwanted TVs are dumped at the Lismore tip every day – if they are in working order or not.

But unlike the old mattresses, the television sets – which have been superseded by high definition flat screens – contain high levels of toxic chemicals that if allowed into the town’s landfill would become an environmental time bomb.

“On a busy weekend we probably get between 30 and 40 TVs dropped off here,” NorthernRiver’s waste and water education officer Kevin Trustum said.

“Or about 1400 a month.

“We have seen a big increaseover the last few years with people wanting to upgrade to the new flat screens and even DVD recorders.

“We can’t sell them because it means we have to test them, which is an expense, and we find that people don’t want to buy them anyway because of the impending digital rollout.”

It’s a growing problem confronting local councils around the country.

According to the Federal Government’s waste management report, each set contains almost two kilograms of toxic metals and chemicals, including lead, mercury, chlorine, chromium, lithium and nickel cadmium.

The report warns that electronic waste is increasing three times faster than any other kind of waste and predicts that, unless habits change, 44 million TVs, computers and other e-goods will be discarded by 2028.

But despite this growing mountain of toxic waste, a nationale-waste recycling program announced 12 months ago has not been implemented.

However, Lismore City Council had decided to go it alone and for the past 18 months has allowed ratepayers to leave their old TVs and other e-waste at the tip for recycling whenever they like.

If people simply throw their e-waste in with the other rubbish waste workers go the extra step and sift through the dumped rubbish to retrieve whatever they can.

“We want to keep as much rubbish out of landfill as possible and TVs weigh a lot,” Mr Trustum said.

“We estimate we keep out 150 tonnes a year out of the landfill by recycling electronic waste.

“The other aspect of it is all the circuit boards contain gold, silver and copper which are finite resources and they are worth money to recycling companies.”

Unfortunately, the council only manages to break even with its tip fees as it doesn’t get a share of the recycling money.

However, Lismore’s natural environment wins, Mr Trustum said.

 



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