Business Clean Up Day: Hundreds of companies lend a hand

Business has a responsibility to recycle e-waste, says Clean Up Australia chairman Ian Kiernan.

STAFF from 371 businesses around the nation rolled up their sleeves on February 27 and got to work helping Clean Up Australia.

Companies were allocated community sites for their clean-up efforts, and were also encouraged to recycle electronic waste such as printer and photocopier toner cartridges and old computers.

Clean Up Australia chairman Ian Kiernan said 1.2 million ink-jet cartridges and 250,000 laser cartridges were thrown away each month.

"We know that we buy 10.4 million new computers each year, but only 500,000 are recycled," Mr Kiernan said.

"Business has a responsibility to look at this.

"They make the product, they sell us the product - including the packaging, including profit, including GST - and then they leave us stranded with the recycling or the disposal of both the packaging and the product."

Mr Kiernan said Clean Up Australia was encouraging people to buy "better brands", rather than "orphan products", which don't have a brand at all.

"They're made as cheaply as possible and they have a very limited life and in many instances, if there's any failure there, or even … when the printing cylinder is empty, it's often just as cheap to buy a new unit than to get the thing refilled," Mr Kiernan said.

"If you buy a better brand, there is a very good chance they will take the product back when you buy another one of their branded products."

Kyocera Mita is one company that recycles products used in printers and photocopiers.

Customers can register for the KyoCollect program and have toner cartridges and other items collected for free (although there is a charge for businesses in regional areas).

Marketing manager Anthony Toope said Kyocera Mita had discovered companies could save money by recycling.

"In our case it was 27% cheaper to separate (the) waste and dispose of it, as opposed to putting it all in general waste," Mr Toope said.

He said Kyocera Mita had sponsored Clean Up Australia for the past five years.

"It's a great, fun activity, and builds some sort of sense of community," Mr Toope said.

"For us, it's a lot of hard work, but it's a team-building exercise as well."

For four years from 2003 to 2006 the team from Kyocera Mita went to Brush Farm Park in North Ryde on Business Clean Up Day.

"That got to the stage where we'd cleaned up countless tonnes of equipment, old cars, it was actually a dumping site behind a bowling club," Mr Toope said.

He said this year they started work on Pembroke Park in North Ryde.

"It is something which is good for us and has obvious benefits back to the community as well."

Further information:

  • Clean Up Australia

    This article first appeared in Business Community Intelligence, May 2007