Each year, 4 million computers and 3 million TVs are sold in Australia replacing old gadgets – and according to CleanUp Australia, 88 per cent of them will end up in landfills.
Fewer than 1 per cent of TVs and around 10 per cent of PCs and laptops are recycled in the country – even though 98 per cent of their components can be.
Sydney-based social enterprise Arnies Recon has been launched to help prevent such old gadgets from being discarded by giving old tech devices a second life. The company wants to avoid them ending up in landfill or what it describes as “the home gadget graveyard” – that drawer or cupboard in most Aussie homes where cables and retired phones, tablets, laptops, gaming devices, cameras and TVs get stored because their owners do not know what to do with them.
Lisa Saunders, co-founder and CEO of Arnies Recon, said the company has already saved more than 4700 tonnes of appliances and electronics from landfill. But that’s a fraction of the 140,000+ tonnes of electronic waste generated by Australians every year, a volume growing at three times the rate of any other waste stream.
She said Arnies Recon was founded on the premise that consumers can enjoy gadgets and then give them a second chance when they’re done with them. The company offers free electronics recycling to consumers, businesses, government organisations and schools, providing a more responsible way to dispose of old gadgets.
Arnies Recon has partnered with shopping centre giant Westfield to provide collection days at some of its shopping centres around Sydney, starting with Bondi Junction, Chatswood and Warringah malls. The partnership will be extended to other locations next year. The company also organises community collections to make it easy for consumers to drop off their small electronics and cables to be recycled at a convenient location in their own neighbourhood.
“With tech devices, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure and people can feel less guilty about replacing their old tech devices with the knowledge that they will be given a second life,” said Saunders.
Once Arnies Recon receives an electronic device, the team tries to find the most efficient way to recycle it. One way is to find new homes for items as they are, which could include collectors or refurbishers who recycle with the lowest footprint possible.
“Recycling saves old gadgets from being dumped into landfill or confined to a drawer for just-in-case. People can give their old devices and tech a second life while enjoying their new gadgets without guilt,” said Saunders.
“We find people who refurbish and reuse the items as they are or as parts to make whole units. We even locate collectors in Australia and overseas who are excited by retro electronics and want to own or restore old items with nostalgic value.”
Saunders said Arnies Recon has evolved into one of the world’s most sophisticated, holistic and comprehensive recycling models, deploying 10 distinct recycling methods, resulting in more than 85 product lines.