Student develops E-waste recycling kiosk

A blockchain enabled kiosk for e-waste recycling has been shortlisted for the University of Sydney’s Genesis Program.

The Genesis Program supports promising startups through mentoring from experts and a final award of $25,000.

According to a University of Sydney statement, Masters Student Shriya Srinagesh’s digital interface E-Mine, aims to minimise e-waste by enticing people to recycle.

“Placed in locations with high footfalls, E-Mine is an automated self-serve kiosk system for users to sell their old e-devices in return for digital tokens that can be converted to cash,” the statement reads.

The machine then scans the device and searches for the best price and offer to sell.

Ms Srinagesh said the machine leverages blockchain technology to increase motivation for e-waste recycling, and alleviate concerns of users who are afraid their confidential information will be compromised.

“Nobody seems to talk about where or what they do with their old devices. Most of them are shelved, while some are sold and some are thrown away with the general trash,” Ms Srinagesh said.

“Through the development of this design that uses blockchain technology, I hope to create a global standard for recycling e-waste legally.”

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Vivo Mobile joins MobileMuster

Smartphone manufacturer Vivo Mobile has joined the mobile telecommunication industry’s recycling program and product stewardship scheme MobileMuster.

Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association Chief Executive Officer Chris Althaus said the program recovers over 95 per cent of the material in a mobile phone, which is then reused to manufacture new products.

“The mobile telecommunications industry is delighted to welcome Vivo Mobile to our world-class recycling program,” Mr Althaus said.

“Our members work together to ensure we keep old mobiles out of the general waste stream and recycle them in a responsible, secure and environmentally sound way, placing reusable commodities back into the supply chain.”

Vivo Mobile Chief Executive Officer Fred Liu said the company was excited to join the government accredited program, as it looks to enter the Australian market.

“Being part of this industry led initiative gives us great confidence that when our customers have finished using their smartphones along with any accessories, they will be recycled to the highest environmental standard,” Mr Liu said.

Since the MobileMuster program began in 1998, it has diverted more than 1400 tonnes of mobiles and accessories from landfill, including over 13 million handsets and batteries.

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Registrations launched for Waste Expo Australia

The future of waste management and resource recovery is high on the agenda at all levels of government as Australia’s largest and most comprehensive conference and exhibition, Waste Expo Australia launches registrations.

Hosting more than 120 brands and over 100 speakers across three conference stages, Waste Expo Australia will return to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on October 23 and 24.

Waste Expo Australia will offer free-to-attend conference content across the Waste and Wastewater Summits, attracting the largest gathering of waste management and resource professionals in Australia.

The Waste Summit Conference brought to you by Oceania Clean Energy Solutions will cover six targeted streams from resource recovery, waste-to-energy, collections, landfill and transfer stations, construction and demolition waste as well as commercial and industrial waste.

Key speakers will include Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian EPA CEO Cathy Wilkinson and Acting Executive Director for Waste Strategy and Policy at the NSW EPA Kar Mel Tang.

Other national and state-based bodies will be represented, along with case study presentations from local governments including Campaspe Shire Council, City of Holdfast Bay, Yarra City Council and Albury City Council.

Leading off day one of the Waste Summit, a panel will discuss the pressing issues surrounding Australia’s waste-to-energy (WtE) sector.

One of the panel members, Director of Enhar Consulting Demian Natakhan, will discuss the status of landfill solar generation and propose that the final resting place for municipal waste may be the beginning of new energy generation.

“Solar farming on former landfill sites offers a way to put otherwise unproductive land to a valuable use,” Mr Natakhan suggested.

“Where landfill gas is already collected in sufficient quantities to firepower generation, solar can be added onto existing grid infrastructure. In sites with lower landfill gas volumes, new solar generation with grid upgrades can unlock significant solar generation, avoiding the competition between solar farming and productive agricultural or industrial land.”

Confronting the challenges and opportunities in wastewater treatment will also be tackled at the Wastewater Summit brought to you by EnviroConcepts.

Waste Expo Australia Event Director Cory McCarrick said the event continues to grow with more speakers and suppliers on board this year than ever before.

“We have seen an increase in the total number of exhibitors this year to 120 and around 50 of these are exhibiting for the first time at Waste Expo Australia,” Mr McCarrick said.

Key exhibitors this year include Bost Group, Cleanaway, Caterpillar, HSR Southern Cross, Tricon Equipment, Applied Machinery and Hitachi.

“Add to this list our impressive line-up of speakers, there is no other waste event in Australia that gives you access to such thought-provoking content that address the major issues facing the industry coupled with the opportunities to be immersed among the key players and products for free,” Mr McCarrick said.

Waste Expo Australia is co-location with All-Energy Australia, Energy Efficiency Expo and ISSA Cleaning and Hygiene Expo — forming a significant showcase for the waste, recycling, wastewater, renewable energy, energy efficiency and cleaning industries.

Across the two days attendees will have access to industry speakers and suppliers across waste management, wastewater treatment, energy generation, energy efficiency and cleaning and hygiene.

Registration gives you access to all four events on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 October 2019.

To register visit www.wasteexpoaustralia.com.au

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Genie in a bottle: Shred-Tech

Shred-Tech Sales Manager Sean Richter talks to Waste Management Review about the company’s 20-year history in e-waste recycling and data destruction. 

Governments and manufactures of electronic hardware are increasingly coming under pressure to implement policies and practices around safe e-waste disposal.

E-waste’s status as a problematic waste stream has a long history. In 1976, the United States Resource Conversation and Recovery Act made it illegal to dump e-waste. Likewise, in 1989 the Basel Convention made it illegal to dump e-waste in developing countries.

As a Basel Convention signatory, Australia is bound to this agreement. E-waste is also banned from landfill in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

Legislative measures like these are incentivising recycling equipment manufactures to engineer technology and machinery capable of processing multiple material components present in electronic products.

Shredding and recycling system manufacturer Shred-Tech has been in business for over 40 years. Sales Manager Sean Richter says in that time, the company has designed and manufactured some of the largest e-waste reduction systems in North America.

“These systems were originally designed to use high horsepower and brute force to shred and granulate everything from large main frame computers, military electronics, telecommunications equipment and high-tech electrical switching gear,” Sean says.

As electronics have become considerably smaller and lighter than Shred-Tech’s initial systems were designed for, the equipment and processes have evolved.   

“Today’s systems have advanced to encompass newer technologies in reduction, usually with lower power requirements, better material handling and separation of the materials prior to smelting or electrochemical processes for extraction,” Sean says.

An end-of-life laptop or phone could expose the financial records, health records, photographs and personal communications of its prior owner. Data and privacy is therefore a key consideration for e-waste recyclers.

According to Sean, the level of shredding provided by Shred-Tech plants makes it virtually impossible to extract data from the end material.

“Computers and telecommunications equipment are subject to massive reduction forces, shattered into hundreds of fractions and mixed with thousands of other materials before heading to final recyclers. Finding one with usable data would be like finding the genie in the bottle.”

Sean says one of the challenges with e-waste processing is how varied the waste stream is, encompassing a range of materials requiring different cleaning and processing methods.

“We have designed and built custom machines and systems ranging from portable hard drive shredders, systems that shred only circuit boards and stand-alone machines designed primarily for destruction purposes,” Sean says.

A key component of Shred-Tech’s business is the design of modular e-waste shredding plants.

“Our shredding systems can be custom configured using proven system modules to meet specific capacity and separation requirements,” Sean says.

“The systems reduce and separate component material such as plastic, aluminium, copper, steel and precious metals.”

According to Sean, a typical Shred-Tech e-waste recycling plant starts with an incoming triage.

“The triage sorts material into type slots, such as hazardous material, material suitable for manual disassembling and resaleable components like integrated circuit chips and power supplies,” Sean says.

The next stage is primary reduction, typically completed by a large twin shaft shredder.

“The goal during primary reduction is to break the material into sortable fractions. The material is then sorted manually on pick lines or via magnets and additional size screening devices,” Sean says.

“Ferrous-based and commingled material is then removed by an initial magnet before being sent for secondary reduction and liberation to minus 50 millimetres.”

According to Sean, there are several schools of thought on how to best achieve secondary reduction. The first is sending all ferrous based material to a high-speed reduction unit such as a ring mill.

“The ring mill liberates all ferrous material with the help of a secondary magnet and removes clean steel for resale. All remaining materials carry on to secondary reduction,” he says.

“Others like to send all material to a large four shaft shredder for liberation and final reduction. I find the high content of ferrous material in this stream results in accelerated wear, however, and leads to high maintenance costs for the four-shaft shredder.”

Following this, material fines are removed by screeners, which eliminates all particles minus two to five millimetres. Sean says removing fines enables increased tuning of the downstream separators.

“All material is then passed over by an eddy current for aluminium removal. Additionally, the stream is then sorted manually to ensure the highest purity of aluminium for resale.”

Remaining materials such as circuit boards, copper and plastic continue to further separation. “The plant then optically sorts using a wide variety of technologies that specifically targets plastic of colour, green circuit boards, wire, copper and other materials into various resalable streams,” Sean says.

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Officeworks to receive e-waste upgrades

Officeworks has received funding though the state governments $25.3 million Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund to upgrade e-waste collection facilities at 42 stores across Victoria.

The Officeworks sites will collect mobile phones, ink cartridges and IT waste items – forming part of a network of more than 1000 e-waste drop-off locations across the state.

Officeworks already operates as a drop-off point for mobile phone product stewardship scheme MobileMuster and the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program.

From 1 July 2019, any device with a power cord or battery will be prohibited from landfill.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the ban will ensure valuable materials left inside e-waste can be safely recovered and reused, while reducing the damage electronic items can have on the environment and human health.

“We’re making sure Victorian households know how to dispose of e-waste properly and easily ahead of the e-waste to landfill ban on 1 July.”

“It’s great to see businesses like Officeworks getting on board to ensure all Victorians to have a convenient drop-off point close to home.”

The state government has also invested $16.5 million to help councils across the state upgrade their e-waste collection and storage facilities, and deliver a public education program.

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Think tank asks if Victoria’s ready for the e-waste ban?

With just over a month to go, Ewaste Watch questions how prepared Victoria is to realise the benefits of the e-waste landfill ban.

Victoria will become the third jurisdiction in Australia to ban e-waste from landfill on 1 July, following in the footsteps of the ACT and South Australia.

Ewaste Watch director Rose Read said while the state government has made efforts to increase the number of convenient drop-off locations, she is unsure if communities and businesses are sufficiently aware of new collection points.

Ms Read also said critical questions had not been answered, including, will householders and businesses have to pay for the recycling? What controls are in place to ensure waste is properly recycled? What will happen to data left on electronic items? And can householders and businesses take their electronic goods back to manufacturers for free recycling?

“Finally, will local councils who are left to implement the landfill ban be able to field the many questions and provide collection services that meet the expectations of residents and businesses?” Ms Read said.

“If not, there is a real risk we may see an increase in illegal dumping, problematic stockpiling and general non-compliance with the ban.”

Ewaste Watch’s second Director John Gertsakis believes the ban is only one part of the e-waste solution, and that federal government must expand the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to include all electronic and electrical products not covered by an industry product stewardship scheme.

“Councils need the support of manufacturers, brands and retailers to ensure recycling is free, and that community-friendly options are provided for electronics reuse, repair and recycling,” Mr Gertsakis said.

“The Victorian e-waste ban is a great opportunity to adjust consumer behaviour, build a circular economy and provide a clear signal to the electronics and battery industries to produce more durable and sustainable goods.”

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Preparing for the Victorian e-waste ban

With the Victorian e-waste to landfill ban less than six weeks away, the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is holding an event to prepare delegates on 28 May.

Once the ban comes into effect, any device with a power cord or battery will be prohibited from landfill.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the ban had been pushed from its original 2018 start date due to issues impacting the Victorian waste sector.

“We’ve all had a lot going on, and recent events impacting the waste and resource recovery sector have almost made us forget what’s around the corner,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re putting this event on in response to member feedback, and those of the broader sector, who are concerned with the lack of information they have in regard to the incoming e-waste to landfill ban.”

Mr Smith said the event will provide key information to prepare attendees, and also facilitate the opportunity to engage with peers and raise issues and concerns.

“Attendees can also speak directly with government agencies working to implement the commitment to support e-waste resource recovery,” Mr Smith said.

“The event will feature presentations from the Department of Environment, a Q&A with the EPA on compliance and an e-waste infrastructure build update from Sustainability Victoria.”

Mr Smith said there will also be presentations on battery stewardship and the rise of advanced machinery and robotics.

“Delegates will have the opportunity to raise questions, which VWMA will formally raise with government agencies,” Mr Smith said.

“By hosting this event in Ballarat – about an hour out of Melbourne – we can ensure regional members get access and also that our metropolitan members can attend.”

The event will run in partnership with Barwon South West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, CMA Ecocycle and the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform.

VWMA members and delegates from within the Barwon South West and Grampians Central West regions can purchase tickets for $50, which includes morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and workshop materials for the day.

The event will be held at the Mercure Hotel in Ballarat, with accomodation available on site.

To make a booking visit VWMA’s website.

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New think-tank launches to combat E-waste

A new independent think-tank Ewaste Watch will launch this Friday with the aim of protecting community health and the environment through accelerating levels of electronics sustainability.

Ewaste Watch will focus on three key questions, are we doing enough? can we do better? and what are the solutions beyond recycling?

The think tank is calling on federal Environment Minister Melissa Price to expand the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to include all products with a plug or a battery, and ensure that end-of-life electronics are diverted from landfill.

Ewaste Watch is also calling on Ms Price to create a regulated national recycling scheme for all handheld batteries under the Commonwealth Product Stewardship Act.

Ewaste Watch Director and co-founder John Gertsakis said Australian’s are globally the fourth highest generators of e-waste per capita, producing over 23.6 kilograms per inhabitant or 574,000 tonnes per annum.

According Mr Gertsakis, the world generates 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste a year, with only 20 percent being recycled through appropriate channels.

Mr Gertsakis said there is a lack of effective collaboration, research and action on how to effectively deal with the rapid growth of electronics and the associated socio-environmental impacts.

“Electronic products are proliferating in society, and in many ways have become an extension of us that we take for granted,” Mr Gertsakis said.

“The reality however, is that recycling alone will not deliver the sustainable outcomes and materials conservation required. Greater attention is needed on product durability, reuse, repair, sharing and productive material-use to turn the tide on ewaste and create circular electronics.”

The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme regulated under the Commonwealth Product Stewardship Act has collected and recycled 291,280 tonnes — roughly 42 per cent of waste arising — of TV and computer ewaste since its creation in 2011.

Mr Gertsakis said this doesn’t include a variety of other end-of-life electronics, most of which are still ending up in landfill.

“There are few if any collection, reuse or recycling options for small appliances, power-tools, photovoltaic panels, handheld batteries and a growing number of consumer electronics devices,” Mr Gertsakis said.

According to Mr Gertsakis, Australian’s import 100,000 tonnes of televisions, computers, printers and computer accessories each year, roughly 35 million pieces of electronic equipment per annum.

“The Federal Government must require any company placing Internet of Things devices on the Australian market to provide a detailed plan for the reuse and recycling of these devices when they are damaged, replaced or reach end-of-life — including how such plans will be funded,” Mr Gertsakis said.

Ewaste Watch’s second Director and co-founder Rose Read said the think-tank will inform, educate, engage and activate key stakeholders across the electronics life-cycle, from design and manufacturing through to retail, government and the general public.

“Business as usual and voluntary programs have barely made a dent in the total volume of ewaste arising, so the urgency for step-change improvement, new business models and positive disruption is now overwhelmingly obvious,” Ms Read said.

“Circular solutions for electronics across the complete product life-cycle is a cornerstone for Ewaste Watch, as is the need to empower consumers to buy less, choose well and make it last.”

Ewaste Watch’s activities will include attention to social and consumer aspects, product design, cleaner production, smart logistics, innovative consumption models such as sharing economies and collaborative consumption, reuse, repair and recycling.

Ms Read said Ewaste Watch will achieve this through knowledge sharing, policy analysis, consumer education, exhibitions and public activations.

Ewaste Watch will collaborate closely with its research partner the Institute for Sustainable Futures at University of Technology Sydney, with Professor of Resource Futures Damien Giurco chairing the Ewaste Watch advisory group.

Ewaste Watch will be officially launched by War on Waste presenter Craig Reucassel at the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.

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Mandatory product stewardship cost on consumers calculated

A new analysis for the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) by independent consultancy firm Equilibrium has estimated the cost of mandatory product stewardship schemes on consumers.

The analysis looked at mandatory product stewardship approaches for different products, and estimated the potential dollars per unit that a mandatory scheme would cost.

Under the current Product Stewardship Act 2011, schemes can be established for a variety of different products and materials to lower their lifecycle impacts.

Mandatory schemes involve enabling regulations to be made that require some persons to take specific action on products, according to the analysis. This could include restricting the manufacture or import of products, prohibiting products from containing particular substances, labelling and packaging requirements and other requirements for reusing, recovering, treating or disposing of products.

For a mandatory e-waste scheme, the cost is estimated to be between $1.55 and $1.85 for an e-waste unit size equivalent product of 0.75 kilograms. For mattresses, the cost of a mattress unit (standard double size) would be between $14.50 to $16.50. A mandatory tyre scheme would cost about $3.50 to $4.00 equivalent passenger units.

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ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said the Australian community has long supported recycling and overwhelmingly wants to be able to recycle more products and items.

“This new data shows that we can do so affordably. In all cases, the cost of recycling these items is likely to be lower than two per cent of their consumer price. Therefore, cost concerns should not be a key barrier to action by our policy-makers,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said that recycling of these items is a well-established practice overseas, including in much less developed countries, and it is difficult to understand why it is not here too.

“Indeed, the formal review of Australia’s Product Stewardship Act has disappeared and is significantly overdue, the new National Waste Policy has a blank space for product stewardship, and there has been no news following ministers’ apparent discussion of product stewardship at the December 2018 Meeting of Environment Ministers.”

ACOR also believes the major political parties need to make commitments in the areas of recycling infrastructure investment, incentives for and procurement of recycled content products and community education. It has submitted industry analysis for consideration.

Equilibrium Managing Director Nick Harford said that while they can be improved, the current co-regulated TV, computer and mobile phone product stewardship schemes are producing good results. He added that there has been no demonstrable consumer concern about their cost.

“While the current schemes are not mandatory, and research estimates that mandatory schemes may have higher administration costs, the estimated cost per unit in relation to the total product cost is generally reasonable,” he said.

The analysis of the potential impacts of mandatory schemes covered factors including:

  • Collection and transport
  • Processing and recycling
  • Compliance, monitoring, audit and reporting
  • Safety and environmental management
  • Sales
  • Administration
  • Marketing, communications and education

Five benefits of a workplace battery recycling program

With less than 10 per cent of batteries sold in Australia each year recycled, e-waste recyclers CMA Ecocycle are seeking to reshape the landscape dramatically.

The benefits of recycling batteries go beyond environmental, with a number of financial benefits that can also be gained from doing so. CMA Ecocycle below highlight five of the benefits that come with battery recycling.

  1. Reduced landfill costs

The greater the volume of waste sent for recycling, the lower the landfill costs a business needs to pay. Victoria’s ban on e-waste to landfill will also encourage more businesses to think twice about sending their batteries to landfill as if the policy is properly policed, businesses could face hefty fines for doing the wrong thing.

  1. A valued commodity

Lead acid is currently in demand, with lead, acid and plastic all easily and cheaply recycled. At present, most other types of batteries incur a net cost but this could change with more efficient collection programs and advances in recycling technology.

  1. Reduced future costs

Batteries contain valuable materials such as cobalt, manganese and lithium – finite resources subject to the laws of supply and demand. With demand soaring, dumping batteries removes these materials from the supply side of the equation while recycling them keeps them in circulation. Increasing the supply means lowering resource prices that will flow through to lower new battery prices.

  1. Reduced recruitment and training costs

Running visible recycling programs is one way of standing out from the crowd and good corporate social responsibility may help retain staff. Companies that rank poorly on environmental performance may face higher staff turnover and this will only lead to higher recruitment and training costs.

  1. Simplicity

Reaping the many financial benefits of battery recycling is easier than you might think.

CMA Ecocycle provides battery collection and recycling solutions ranging from two litre collection buckets up to the truckload.

To get started, all you need to do is call CMA Ecocycle on 1300 32 62 92, or head to their website and fill in a form.

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