Better solutions to e-waste

A motion I moved in Council two years ago to improve the way the City deals with e-waste (discarded electronic equipment) has borne fruit with the announcement that Council will set up 11 permanent collection points for small items like batteries, lightbulbs and mobile phones in libraries and other public places throughout the City next month.  While action in this regard has taken longer than I’d have liked I’m glad that local residents will finally have a way to get rid of this potentially dangerous component of their waste without having to rely on quarterly collections at out-of-the-way Council depots.

The e-waste recycling station in Kyoto City Hall

The e-waste recycling station in Kyoto City Hall

I was inspired to move my motion on e-waste after I saw the way Kyoto deals with the issue while visiting Japan for a summit on biodiversity.  There, distinctive bins such as the one pictured are placed in prominent locations by the city Council for collection and are very well used.

Proper disposal of e-waste is important because of both the hazards posed by some of the elements used in electronic devices – such as lead, cadmium and mercury – and the value and scarcity of others.  Modern electronic equipment often makes use of a range of obscure rare metals that most of us have never heard of but which are in increasingly short supply around the world.  Proper disposal of e-waste means some of these elements can be recycled, reducing the amount of environmentally destructive mining that must take place to feed the electronics market.

Our modern lifestyle is placing a range of new stresses on our planet’s finite resources and ways of avoiding these problems can sometimes be very difficult.  It’s heartening that in the case of e-waste there are easy solutions and it’s great to see Council taking concrete action in this regard.

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