E-Waste Podcast: What we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and why we need to stop


With a bevy of assignments piling up towards the end of this session, I grabbed the BCM bull by its horns and knuckled down like an upstanding, model student. Having already an interest in Amazon due to their imminent Australian debut, I dove into their use of automation for DIGC335. Upon seeing the BCM310 lecture on data centres and their environmental impact, I knew I’d have to look at the way companies manage their e-waste. While it became difficult to identify the methods of individual companies, like Amazon, I found a wealth of information, statistics and exposés on the broader flow of e-waste.

Most concerning, was the realisation that much of the world’s e-waste, corporations’ included, ends up either in landfill or lining the streets of impoverished nations. So, this shaped my focus instead to investigating the status of e-waste worldwide, with an emphasis on international legislation that informs ethical businesses, tied up by looking at the Australian e-waste landscape. Having committed to completing a research report for DIGC335, and not a digital artefact, I thought it might be therapeutic exciting to hone my content production skills with this project instead.

Having overcome one of my early obstacles in hiring a microphone (turns out you just need to say you’ve “borrowed one before”), I set about researching. One key challenge was having to ignore sources due to there being so many available; the Dateline report comes to mind, which I only sampled once in favour of focusing on ABC’s similar story. Another challenge was being only able to digitally ‘rent’ eBooks for 24 hours via UOW’s catalogue Research done and script written, it was time to record my lines. Again and again. Because upon editing them together, I noticed a slurred word here, my phone ‘pinged’ there, and the neighbours running their water audibly shaking the plumbing. These made many lines unworkable. Half an hour and many fits of giggles later, Madelyn’s lines were recorded. Everything was coming together.

Until, of course, I had to delete a thousand words because 2,500 words doesn’t actually equal 9/10 minutes of speech. Hmm. That was soul-crushing another challenge.

I’m very happy of the final product. I believe the podcast medium has allowed me to convey a large amount of information in a more digestible format than a written report, and I’ve comfortably satisfied the assessment criteria. I’m also pleased that I completed it in a more humane, relaxed timeframe, even if that is out of necessity. While I spent a lot of hours editing, mixing, finding appropriate music and generally fussing about, I feel like it was worth it.

Some of the disadvantages, however, include that same requisite pedantry. While there’s formatting involved in written work, it takes much longer for a podcast. Additionally, extra time is taken up in the podcast by acknowledging sources on the fly as opposed to relegating them in citations and references.


ABC, Background Briefing: How did Westpac’s e-waste end up on the worst dump in the world? 2017, Radio programme, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Produced by Vivien Altman, Presented by Rebecca Le Tourneau,
<http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/2017-03-12/8329068 >

Baldé, C.P., Wang, F., Kuehr, R., Huisman, J. 2015, The global e-waste monitor – 2014, United Nations University, IAS – SCYCLE, Bonn, Germany
< https://i.unu.edu/media/unu.edu/news/52624/UNU-1stGlobal-E-Waste-Monitor-2014-small.pdf >

As You Sow, 2016, Amazon.com, Inc. Request: Report on Electronic Waste, viewed 3/5/17
< http://www.asyousow.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Amazon-E-waste-2016-Resolution.pdf >

Hieronymi, K., Ramzy K., Williams, E. 2012, E-Waste Management, ProQuest Ebook Central,
< http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/lib/uow/detail.action?docID=981726 >

SERI, About SERI 2017, Sustainable Electronics Recycling International, viewed 24/5/17
< https://sustainableelectronics.org/about >

Zhang, K. 2011, Recycling of Electronic Waste II, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central,
< http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/lib/UOW/detail.action?docID=699415 >

Basel Action Network 2010, Country Status / Waste Trade Ban Agreements, Basel Action Network, viewed 24/5/17
< http://archive.ban.org/country_status/country_status_chart.html >

1-800 EWASTE 2012, Monitoring the effects of our obsolete CRT monitors, 1-800 EWASTE, viewed 24/5/17

Planet Green Recycling 2016, Landing Page, Planet Green Recycling, viewed 25/5/17
< http://planetgreenrecycling.com/ >

SBS, Dateline: E-Waste Hell 2011, television programme, Special Broadcasting Service, Produced by Donald Cameron, Presented by Giovana Vitola,
< http://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/story/e-waste-hell# >

Bonningston, C 2014, Our E-Waste Problem Is Ridiculous, and Gadget Makers Aren’t Helping, viewed 25/5/17,
< https://www.wired.com/2014/12/product-design-and-recycling/ >

Gunther, M 2015, Amazon, Best Buy and the free rider problem, viewed 5/5/17,
< https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/aug/05/amazon-best-buy-electronic-waste-walmart-recyling >

Gough, M 2016, Australian laws lag on electronic waste management, University of New South Wales Newsroom, viewed 27/5/17,
< http://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/australian-laws-lag-electronic-waste-management >

AMTA, The Recycling Process, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, viewed 26/5/17,
< http://www.mobilemuster.com.au/learn-about-recycling/?gclid=CJ7YlYapj9QCFQwEKgodPgoOpw&gt;

Department of the Environment and Energy, National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, Australian Government, viewed 26/5/17,
< http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/national-waste-policy/television-and-computer-recycling-scheme >

Dearne, K 2011, Participants fear e-waste recycling scheme has lost direction, The Australian, viewed 26/5/17,
< http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/participants-fear-e-waste-recycling-scheme-has-lost-direction/news-story/f88ddf68d940c69debcdf8eed6081d57 >

Johnston, R 2017, Australia’s E-Waste Problem Is Getting Worse, Gizmodo Australia, viewed 27/5/17,
< https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/07/australias-e-waste-problem-is-getting-worse/ >

The Economist Intelligence Unit 2015, Global e-waste systems Insights for Australia from other developed countries, Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform, viewed 27/5/17,
< http://anzrp.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Global-e-waste-systems-A-Report-for-ANZRP-by-EIU-FINAL-WEB.pdf >

Travers, P 2017, e-waste: What happens to discarded televisions, computers and mobile phones?, ABC Radio Canberra, viewed 27/5/17,
< http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-22/e-waste-what-happens-to-old-computers-televisions-and-mobile/8372516 >

Stone, M 2015, A Slimmer Smartphone Means Mountains of E-waste, VICE Motherboard, viewed 27/5/17,
< https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/slimmer-smartphones-mean-more-ewaste >

Electronic Recyclers International, Inc. 2016, Reusing and Recycling: Big Challenges, Big Opportunities, University of Pennsylvania, viewed 5/5/17,
< http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/sponsor/electronic-recyclers-international-inc/ >

Bensound, The Lounge,
< http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music/track/the-lounge >


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