End of life

Disposing of old and unused equipment is an opportunity to continue sustainable management practices. The first consideration is to establish if the product can be reused. Reuse has the lowest environmental impact as it extends the life of the item.  

If it cannot be reused, can it be recycled?  If it cannot be recycled, how can it be safely disposed of? If the product is designed for dis-assembly then it may have a new life as a different product or if it compostable it can return to the ecosystem. Electrical equipment can be recycled to reuse important rare earth metals. Paper can be recycled to make new paper.

When establishing your product selection criteria it is important to understand the product's end-of-life and any manufacturer take-back options available. There is a movement to shift responsibility for spent products and packaging to the producers who design, make and sell them. The terms "product stewardship" and "extended producer responsibility" are used describe these activities. Operational leasing enables you to return products when you’ve finished with them – a form of take-back.  

If it cannot be reused or recycled, then it may not be the right product for you.  

The Trends, Tools and Tips in Waste Management Page provides disposal and recycling options for a range of products.


Related resources

Slide Deck: Sustainable procurement fundamentals with ECO-Buy

These slides from an interactive workshop held for CitySwitch signatories in Melbourne and presented by experienced trainers EcoBuy provides an introduction to sustainable procurement.

Sustainable Procurement Quick Guide

This guide provides a step-by-step approach to introducing a sustainable procurement model to your organisation.

Best practice waste & recycling contracts for business

Get a best practice waste and recycling contract underway with the help of this Sustainability Victoria guide. This resource has been created to help small to medium sized businesses navigate the waste contract procurement process and to get the most efficient and cost effective service.


Lamp recycling can help reduce the amount of mercury being sent to landfill. FluoroCycle is a voluntary product stewardship scheme that seeks to increase the national recycling rate of waste mercury-containing lamps.

NSW Local Government Sustainable Choice Database

The Local Government NSW Sustainable Choice Database is a a membership-based program available to councils in NSW. It provides indicators of sustainability factors that may be attached to a company and/or its products.

USA Sustainable Procurement Policies

A collection of ten real Sustainable Procurement Policies from USA state administrations, complied by California's Buy Recycled program. 

APCC Sustainable procurement guides

The Australasian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) provide guides to sustainable procurement of office paper, cleaning services, business machines, ICT products, print services, and office furniture, plus a guide to assessing the sustainability credentials of a contracted supplier, for example when writing tender documents.

Sustainable Procurement of Services Guide (AUS)

Detailed information about the sustainability issues to consider when procuring services, such as financial, best practice performance criteria that can be used in approaches to market and possible contract requirements. Produced by the Australian Government.


Ecospecifier has over 6,700 sustainable products and it is a leading global source of life-cycle assessed product information. Ecospecifier links independent information with a powerful search interface.

Search resources

Latest Case Studies