12 Nov 2010
By Turlough Guerin

Sinking Myths Isn’t Easy


Myths and misconceptions are one of the biggest challenges I personally think is a barrier to enhancing environmental performance across the globe. Shifting them can be like turning around a ship.

For example, I recently came across one worth sharing. One in two Australians think that single use (domestic) batteries are less expensive than rechargeable batteries. But as Brad Gray, Planet Ark’s Campaign Manager says, if you take into account the number of times they can be reused, rechargeable batteries end up costing as little as two cents each (PDF-22KB) and that includes the recharging cost. And the impacts of this type of waste adds up. For example, 150,000 tonnes of batteries are purchased in Australia each year with a weight equivalent to that of the Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner.

Telstra Corporate Citizenship Report 2010What are we doing at Telstra?

The release of our Corporate Citizenship Report was timely particularly from the perspective of it being Recycling Week. The reason I say this, is that as I reflect on our performance in the specific area of waste management, Telstra has turned around its performance dramatically.

  • Staff are now using (on average) 500 sheets of paper (i.e. 1 ream) less than they were 5 years ago. For every 100 reams of recycled office paper that is printed doubled-sided, the savings are estimated at two trees, more than one tonne of greenhouse gases, and almost a cubic metre of landfill space. This is compared with using 100 reams of non-recycled paper or printing single-sided. Read more on the Planet Ark website.
  • Telstra’s total waste to landfill (or for treatment) is now a third of what is was 5 years ago.
  • Total waste per staff member has dropped from 0.87 tonnes per staff member 5 years ago to 0.34 now.

Visit our environment website for all the facts on our current and historic waste data.

Getting the Message Across

Did you know waste bins can talk? For some comic relief on this very serious subject (of waste management and recycling) I encourage you to look at the work of Telstra’s very own Creative Communications Specialist, Alan Pentland, who prepared a vblog especially for me on waste management.

What ways do you encourage people in your own organisations to better understand waste management and recycling?


Posts: 10


  1. GW says:

    I think it is great that companies like Telstra are trying to reduce waste and trying to recycle where possible.

    A bigger challenge to large organisations like Telstra is really the technology involved in using your services and as we move further to newer technology there is a growing pile of old phones, PC’s, soon to be smart phones and tablets etc that are not being recycled and are getting quite large in their numbers.

    There are a number of ways to recycle technology, for example;

    We have 5 Pc’s and 1 server in use, when we do upgrades we upgrade the internals now and not the case, we re-use the case, we have no need to have a shiny new case.
    We tried to give away our older CRT displays, but no one wanted them, not even charity, so we gutted them and use the monitor cases as chicken next boxes
    All older internal computer components we no longer require we will try family first to see if anyone wants the left over bits, if not we look to sell, and any left from there are provided to charity organisations. In the end we usually have very little left to throw away.
    Mobiles and other hand held devices however is different, we have about 7 lying around gathering dust, though we know the mobile recycle boxes are available, we just keep forgetting to drop them in.

    My point to the above is that I have seen many organisations updating and replacing technology very often and the old stuff is often piled up and dumped when it is too old. Some can be sold but I do wonder how much is actually binned. What ius a shame is that many older equipment can be re-used for for reasons I am unsure of it takes an awful long time for it to be processed and then sold of or given away.

    Anyway, as I said it is good to see paper being reduced, but we need to shift our recycling ideas to technology as well.


  2. mark ereira says:

    certainly waste disposal remains one of Humankinds major priorities into the future, with the advent of globelisation and third world nations seeking to aquire what more developed nations already have, gross polution as now evident in China, and is the terrible price they are paying for their developement, and fast growth, this also looking at Indias growth also.W

    we will certainly have to find sustainable ways of waste recycling and disposal.Mother earth is a sacred place for all of creations, and to trash it is to suffocate in our own excrement.
    I am pleased that Telstra shows some good moral practice in its overall corporate business practice, and as a major player in this regard,if this attitude, continues to be a reflection of Telstras overall relations with the public, and its customers, Telstra will attract back to its self,the same goodwill, and loyalty.

  3. Nobby says:

    Taking the question as to which battery is cheaper to buy, I rather suspect the answer currently is always going to be single use, throw away. Otherwise, you also have the additional capital outlay for a charger for rechargeable batteries. No mythology there.

    The answer you get is usually dictated by how you frame the question. So, if you ask the question as to which is the most cost effective battery to buy, then the answer is the rechargeable. Even though the rechargeable (and necessary ancillaries) might still cost more to buy upfront?

    I will suggest another mythology however. The labels on the domestic recycle bins here in Melbourne still claim they only accept Type 1-3 recycleable plastics. This has not been true for my own and neighbouring council for a handful of years. They take types 1-6, with the most common example of types 5/6 that I come across being plastic plant pots. I wonder how many hundreds (thousands?) of those are still going to landfill weekly, here in the \garden state\, because of this unchanged \mythology\? [On the other hand, there is also the assumption that just because councils or other collectors do pick up waste that it is then truly recycled; it is quite likely that where supply outstrips capacity that waste still gets dumped to landfill? Who audits that?]

    On GW’s points re computers, a couple of issues… I previously recycled my computer box when upgrading, but this time around bought a new one as it came with a better power supply unit, more capable of stably handling the new new generation of chipsets. The corollorary though is I have often wondered what the actual \sweetspot\ is for a normal, word-processing-centric person like myself? For example, would a dumbed down version of a modern core Duo chipset ie still fast, but then running some past combination, say running Windows 95 and Office 2003 – if only we could still get such software/licences – actually be faster?? And less hungry in terms of new fangled gadgetry? Now that’s the sort of recycling I would like to see… using what is most fit for purpose and not what the marketers (including Telstra, re the use of telecommunications!) tell me it is!

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