Australia lags on e-recycling

AUSTRALIA is lagging behind 'international best practice' on how to manage e-waste such as old mobile phones and computers, new research shows.

A review of the nation's e-waste laws by University of New South Wales researchers published in the Journal of Environmental Management this week found the laws were "ineffective" and compared poorly to world leaders Japan and Switzerland.

The researchers also found more "compliance measures" were needed to keep hazardous e-waste pollutants from ending up in landfill.

UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences professor Graciela Metternicht said the worrying thing was that "our legislation is unable to keep pace with the amount of e-waste we're now generating".

"Our recycling targets may have been good 10 years ago, but they are ineffective today," she said.

The researchers also found key flaws across four acts governing e-waste recycling nationally, including that the definition of e-waste for recycling no longer covered all types of e-waste and that there was "a lack of clarity" about who was responsible for e-waste collection.

The study also found many regional residents had to drive more than 100km just to reach an appropriate recycling depot or drop-off to get rid of their e-waste.

Report lead author, UNSW honours student Ashleigh Morris said the laws needed to better support local councils to deal with the problem.

"The current legislation places no responsibility on consumers to dispose of e-waste and the councils who manage the largest volumes of this hazardous and valuable form of waste are not supported to do so," she said.