With Victoria’s e-waste ban commencing 1 July, Waste Management Review explores what supporting infrastructure has been put in place and some of the uncertainties surrounding compliance.
The Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform (ANZRP) has announced plans to build the world’s first commercial e-waste plastic microfactory after receiving a $250,000 grant from Sustainability Victoria.
In partnership with UNSW SMaRT Centre and e-recycler TES, the microfactory will process up to 500,000 kilograms of waste plastic per year. This will be recovered from e-waste recycling and reformed into 3D printer filament for retail sale.
Worldwide demand for plastic 3D printer filament is estimated to triple during the next four years, reaching a value of more than USD$1,965.30 million by 2023.
With the upcoming e-waste ban in Victoria and growing restrictions on exports of mixed e-waste plastic, options to reduce the cost of recycling and keep these materials out of landfill are growing. The project aims to reform a waste stream (e-waste plastic) that’s currently shipped overseas for processing or sent to local landfill.
Warren Overton, CEO of ANZRP, said the e-waste plastic micro-factory is a truly circular economy approach that ensures materials are kept in productive use.
“We’re so pleased to be supporting Australian innovation from UNSW and TES that helps improve e-waste recycling,” Mr Overton said.
“As the volume of e-waste continues to increase, technologically advanced approaches such as microfactories will play a key role mitigating the impact of old televisions and computers.
“By working alongside industry and internationally recognised research hubs, ANZRP is committed to ensuring all e-waste is managed responsibly. This reduces environmental impact and creates employment.”
Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the grants will help develop a circular economy that maximises the reuse of materials and reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfill.
With construction due to start early 2019, the microfactory will be housed at the TES e-waste recycling facility in Somerton, Victoria. This portable factory has the potential to be moved and process recovered e-waste plastic in other areas.
“The microfactory has the potential to scale and accommodate the 6000 tonne plastic feedstock that is currently produced each year from the e-waste recycled through the TechCollect program,” Mr Overton said.
“We have taken the first step with a scalable solution that has guaranteed feedstock, strong environmental benefits, as well as economic benefits through the creation of employment opportunities in regional and metropolitan parts of Australia.”
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.