CMA Ecocycle has spent the past 18 months planning a first-of-its-kind battery recycling plant set to become a critical part of Victoria’s e-waste recycling infrastructure network.
Australian-owned e-waste recycling company MRI E-cycle Solutions has called for all types of e-waste with a plug or a battery to be included under the Product Stewardship Act.
The news follows the meeting of Environment Ministers commitment to fast track the development of new product stewardship schemes for solar panels and batteries. The federal government is also reviewing the Product Stewardship Act 2011, with the findings and recommendations to be provided to Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg by mid-2018.
MRI E-cycle Solutions said in a statement that it was eager to see regulatory reform across all states and territories that facilitates and encourages electronics and battery reuse. It said it hopes to see policies that maximise resource recovery and help local government manage e-waste without being economically penalised.
The company argued that it believes the upcoming Victorian e-waste ban presents an opportunity to synchronise the state ban with an expanded national electronics stewardship scheme. The Victorian Government’s e-waste to landfill ban is expected to commence on 1 July, 2019.
MRI E-cycle Solutions said in its statement that the new start date of 1 July 2019 will better prepare the community and local councils through public education and infrastructure upgrades.
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The statement said that while Australia has made significant steps through the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) and voluntary programs like MobileMuster, the take-back, and recycling, of many other categories of electrical and electronic goods, have gone unfunded due to a lack of stewardship schemes. It noted that this means that e-waste still continues to flood into landfills at the cost of local government and the community.
“It is essential that the NTCRS be expanded to include the same types of electronic products that will be covered under Victoria’s landfill ban to avoid shifting the cost of their recovery and recycling from producers and retailers to local councils,” the company said.
MRI E-cycle Solutions Managing Director Will LeMessurier said that Victoria’s definition of e-waste was the most appropriate way to better manage the recovery, reuse and recycling of absolute electrical goods. However, he noted that without a national electronics stewardship scheme, local governments would feel the brunt of the cost.
“There are still many categories of e-waste that fall outside the NTCRS, including mobiles, photovoltaic solar panels and batteries that will go straight to landfill in the absence of a comprehensive national electronics stewardship scheme to collect, reuse and recycle anything with a plug or a battery,” he said.
MRI E-cycle Solutions in its statement also argued that a mismatch between Victoria’s comprehensive definition of e-waste and the federal regulations will also create confusion for councils and the public as to what can be recycled.
“Expanding industry funded co-regulated and/or voluntary programs under the Product Stewardship Act to cover all types of e-waste will significantly improve economies of scale for industrial processing and create new employment opportunities.”
“It will also contribute to higher recycling rates nationwide and ensure the cost burden is shared equitably among producers, retailers, consumers and local government. Australia will then truly have a best practice model to the envy of other countries battling the challenge of e-waste.”
John Gertsakis, Director of Communications at Equilibrium, discusses the vital factors required to progress electronics product stewardship outcomes in Australia.
A new report has found Australia, New Zealand and other nations of Oceania are the highest per capita e-waste generators, with only six per cent formally collected and recycled.
The Global E-waste Monitor 2017 was developed collaboratively by United Nations University (UNU) and hosted by UNU’s Vice-Rectorate in Europe, the International Telecommunication Union and the International Solid Waste Association.
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It uses data from 2016 and shows that the world generated 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste that year – equal to 4500 Eiffel Towers, with only 20 per cent of this recycled. The report foresees this to increase by 17 per cent to 52.2 million metric tonnes by 2021.
The estimated value of recoverable materials that year was US $55 billion. Meanwhile, about 4 per cent of 2016’s e-waste is being thrown into landfills, with about 76 per cent presumed to be incinerated.
Europe, including Russia, was found to be the second largest e-waste generator per inhabitant with an average of 16.6 kg per inhabitant. Europe still had the highest collection rate at 35 per cent.
The Americas generate 11.6kg per inhabitant and collect 17 per cent, while Asia collects 15 per cent and generates 4.2kg per inhabitant.
Read the full report here.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has issued a works approval to a Campbellfield company for a facility that will allow it to recycle electronic waste (e-waste).
MRI (Aust) Pty Ltd was granted the works approval for the proposed Sydney Road facility, to manually disassemble e-waste, including nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries, into raw materials for resale.
EPA Development Assessments Manager Tim Faragher said the e-waste stream is growing up to three times faster than general municipal waste in Australia.
“The Victorian Government has committed to banning e-waste from landfill in Victoria and the number of e-waste re-processors is predicted to grow following the ban’s introduction,” Mr Faragher said.
“Both e-waste and processed e-waste materials must be handled and stored with due care in order to avoid leakage and the release of hazardous substances into air, water or soil.”
Mr Faragher said EPA’s assessment of the proposal had focused on key environmental issues including potential dust emissions and land and stormwater contamination.
“EPA’s assessment of the proposal focused on key environmental issues including potential dust emissions, land and stormwater contamination and ensuring that suitable controls were put in place,” Mr Faragher said.
Mr Faragher said more than 90 per cent of e-waste and batteries received by the site would be recycled with any residual waste sent to a facility licensed to receive it.
Works approvals are issued by EPA Victoria under the Environment Protection Act 1970. They are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact.
The company required an EPA works approval as under new regulations, e-waste treatment facilities with the capacity to reprocess more than 500 tonnes of specified electronic waste per year are considered scheduled premises.
The application was referred to City of Hume Council, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), WorkSafe Victoria and Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) for assessment and comment.