Beyond E-waste Recycling – Electronics Consumption and the Challenge of Sustainability
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Australians are the fourth highest generators of ewaste per capita in the world generating just over 23.6 kg per inhabitant or 574,000 tonnes per annum[i]. The numbers are even more staggering when you consider that the world generated 44.7 million metric tonnes (Mt) of e-waste in a year, yet only 20 percent was recycled through appropriate channels[ii].
In response to the sluggish pace of regulatory and industry action, a new independent think-tank –Ewaste Watch has recently been launched in Australia to act in the public interest to protect human health and the environment by accelerating increased levels of electronics sustainability from cradle to cradle.
During this webinar, Ewaste Watch director and co-founder John Gertsakis will discuss the importance of design in addressing the ewaste challenge and over-consumption. He will outline why it’s important to move beyond simplistic recycling solutions, and place greater attention on policies, programs that can help create new patterns of consumption, including higher levels of dematerialisation, sharing and product-service strategies1.
While electronics bring much functional benefit and convenience, the proliferation of electronics, including the Internet of Things, also underscores the need to think and act very differently in the quest to turn the tide on ewaste globally and transition to a circular economy. Recycling alone has not been able to curve the production and consumption of electronics, and this means positive disruption through policy, regulation, investment and consumer education is now essential.
John Gertsakis, Director and Co-founder, Ewaste Watch Institute
John Gertsakis is a sustainability practitioner with experience as an industry adviser, consultant, research academic and advocate. He is the co-founder of the newly formed Ewaste Watch Institute, and he co-authored Australia’s first report on e-waste recycling in 1995 titled: Short Circuiting Waste from Electronic Products. John was a senior research associate at RMIT’s Centre for Design for a decade where he co-developed and managed the EcoReDesign demonstration program which focused on life cycle thinking and good design. He served as Executive Director of Product Stewardship Australia from 2006 to 2011 representing global consumer electronics brands in the design of Australia’s Product Stewardship Act and the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme. John is currently Director of Communications with Equilibrium consultants, and is an Adjunct Professor with the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS.
Robert Crocker, China Australia Centre for Sustainable Urban Development
Robert Crocker is Deputy Director of the China Australia Centre for Sustainable Urban Development, a partnership with Tianjin University, where he is also a guest researcher. His research focuses on the relationship between consumption, waste and design for sustainability, and he has published widely in this field. His recent book, Somebody Else’s Problem: Consumerism, Sustainability and Design (Routledge: Greenleaf 2016), won gold in the Axiom Best Business Books awards for 2017.