South Australian Port Pirie based recycler Nyrstar could become Australia’s first e-waste recycling facility.
Nyrstar will soon accept a range of electronic products, including printed computer circuit boards, cathode ray tubes, mobile phones and related devices.
It will also accept photovoltaic cells from roof solar panels, alkaline batteries and potentially other batteries such as lead acid and nickel cadmium.
Currently e-waste generated in Australia is either landfilled or exported.
If sent offshore, it can end up in countries without stringent environmental or health and safety regulations, leading to environmental contamination and hazards for workers recovering e waste components.
The waste and resource recovery industry employs up to 5,000 South Australians. The sector turns over $1 billion each year and contributes more than $500 million to Gross State Product.
South Australia is the only state in Australia that has legislated to ban e-waste from landfill.
The state has also implemented Container Deposit Legislation and a ban on single-use plastic bags.
“While waste and materials management is a key environment issue, it presents an opportunity to contribute to the State’s economic growth and competitive advantage,” said Regional Development Minister Geoff Brock.
“The planned expansion of facilities like Nyrstar mean that we can recapture valuable resources that would otherwise have been sent offshore or landfilled, and create jobs here in South Australia.”
“The transformation of the Nyrstar Port Pirie smelter to a multi-metals processing and recovery facility will also provide the technology to process e-waste, including printed circuit boards, television screens, mobile phones and alkaline batteries,” said Nyrstar Vice President, Metals Refining, Bertus de Villiers.
“Featuring proven state-of-the-art technology available in Europe, Asia and North America, the site will be Australia’s first e-waste treatment facility, helping to reduce landfill and recover valuable metal to reuse in consumer products,” Mr de Villiers added.
“The expected treatment rates of e-waste from 2018 is expected to be less than 3000 tonnes per annum, increasing to more than 20,000 tonnes per annum as the facility ramps up, with a recovery of 98 per cent of metal content.”