E-waste is one of those items that tend to pile up in dusty rooms and workshops of many businesses, relegated to the too-hard basket. That’s where clever social enterprise Substation33 comes in – not only relieving Brisbane businesses and households of their e-waste but re-purposing it into useful new products.
Substation33 is located in the Brisbane suburb of Kingston. It opened in 2013 as an electronic waste recycling centre, providing a workplace where volunteers and employees can gain confidence and skills for the transition to sustainable employment.
More recently, the enterprise has been making the news with its new Innovation Lab, where it’s using e-waste to design and develop a number of brilliant products for commercial, social and educational purposes.
e-waste pickup service
Here at CitySmart we recently arranged to have our e-waste collected by the Substation33 team.
Contact them first to see if you’re eligible for a pick-up of e-waste from your business premises via their free collection service running Monday to Friday. Call 07 3826 1533 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Substation33 crew has a saying: if it had a plug or a battery, we can recycle it!
- office equipment
- household appliances
- all other obsolete or unwanted electronic equipment.
Erasing your data
Be sure to check with your IT department or provider about securely erasing data on any devices before you send them to e-waste.
Alternatively, Substation33 can erase your old data for you. They will supply a certificate of data destruction or an email advising that data has been wiped. This service costs $5.50 per hard drive. They ask that you remove and set aside drives needing this service separately before collection.
Repurposing e-waste, helping locals
Substations33’s new Innovation Lab is turning their e-waste into a wide range of useful devices.
Current projects include ‘flooded road’ smart warning signs, electric e-bikes powered by old laptop batteries, 3D printers, a vertical garden monitoring system, solar run amplifiers, and portable power banks to light up remote villages in Indonesia.
These projects provide an opportunity for up-cycling and e-waste diversion from landfill, which has obvious environmental benefits. But there is also the social layer – the skills development and transfer between professional mentors and volunteers, students and people seeking to return to the workforce. In the last year, 50 trainees have found jobs back in the workforce. Ten more jobs have been created in-house for those who didn’t want to leave.
That ticks the box for all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic and social.