Unwanted electronic and electrical items such as phones and laptops are called e-waste and, instead of being recycled, they’re often sent to landfill where they slowly break down and leach hazardous materials into the surrounding soils.The Victorian Government is developing a new waste management policy for Victoria to reduce (and eventually stop) e-waste going to landfill.
The policy will soon come into effect, supported by a communications and education campaign.
What did we do?
To provide insights and direction for both the campaign and broader policy, BehaviourWorks was engaged to conduct behavioural research on key target audiences.
The largest unregulated groups disposing of e-waste are small to medium enterprises and householders.
These are the targets for behaviour change; the aim being to encourage these groups to take their e-waste to a transfer station for recycling.
BWA developed a state-wide survey to identify what control beliefs these groups held around recycling, past behaviours, likely timing of e-waste disposal, preferred sources of information and what their intentions might be with regard to future e-waste recycling behaviours.
What did we find?
The key research findings suggest lack of knowledge is a real hurdle to changing recycling practices.
Many of us don’t know what the term e-waste means, what can actually be done with it, or even where our local transfer stations are.
When it comes to disposal, we seem to give old electronics away, store them somewhere or put them out in the hard rubbish.
Anything with data, like computers, we tend to keep and store out of privacy concerns. And whichever method we use, we tend to stick to it.
Predicting which groups are more likely to do the right thing comes down to a few (not surprising) factors. You are more likely to take e-waste to transfer stations if:
- you think it’s a good idea
- you can do it easily
- you think others would do it
- you believe it will actually be recycled
- your workplace does it as a regular thing, and;
- you know where to take it.
Overall, people want to do the right thing, even if they currently don’t bother, or don’t know how.