RecycleSmart diverts 2.2 tonnes of waste in three months

RecycleSmart users have have diverted 2.2 tonnes of waste from landfill in the last three months, following expansion into every council across Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

According to a RecycleSmart statement, 90 per cent of the collected material consisted of soft plastics and clothes.

“RecycleSmart is an Australian start-up with a mission to revolutionise waste management and preserve the environment,” the statement reads.

“We work with councils and businesses to help communities benefit from the economic and environmental advantages of resource recovery.”

RecycleSmart offers a door to door PickUp service whereby customers’ recyclable waste is collected for recovery, including soft plastics, e-waste, clothes and problem waste such as batteries and light bulbs.

“In addition to our rollout across new councils, we’ve also launched a Workplace PickUp service so that offices, schools and business can recycle more and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill,” the statement reads.

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VIC offers $2M in grants to improve e-waste infrastructure

The Victorian Government is offering $2 million in grants for local councils and industry to improve e-waste infrastructure across the state.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the funding will work to strengthen Victoria’s collection, storage and reprocessing of electronic goods.

According to Ms D’Ambrosio, the new round of funding will focus on building e-waste reprocessing capability and capacity, while continuing to ensure the collection of e-waste is conducted to the highest standard.

“The state government introduced a ban on e-waste to landfill in July 2019 to pave the way for electronic items to be safely disposed of and reduce the harm these items have on the environment and human health,” she said.

“We’re supporting local councils and industry to keep potentially toxic e-waste out of landfill. This funding will allow e-waste to be reprocessed locally into valuable products – boosting jobs, supporting local businesses and helping divert more waste from landfill.”

Sustainability Victoria CEO Claire Ferres said the latest round of funding is a part of the state government’s $16.5 million investment to strengthen the e-waste sector and raise public awareness about how to dispose of e-waste correctly.

“With e-waste growing three times faster than standard municipal waste, it is vital we build a strong Victorian e-waste sector that our community trusts to deliver safe and secure management of e-waste,” she said.

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The largest collection network: MobileMuster

Spyro Kalos, MobileMuster General Manager, speaks with Waste Management Review about the product stewardship scheme’s 21st anniversary and shifting approaches to sustainability.

While Australians are early adopters of technology, the length of mobile phone ownership remains relatively stable, with half the population using their mobile phone for two or more years, according to MobileMuster research.

Reuse and repair rates are also rising, as the circular economy concept continues to take root.

Aside from shifting supply chains, one of the most important circular economy outcomes is changing the public’s attitudes when it comes to reuse, repair and recycling. People are realising that an out-of-date phone doesn’t need to become waste. It can be reused through sale or passed on to family and friends.

Spyro Kalos, MobileMuster General Manager, says to support the growing reuse and repair market, MobileMuster has developed education resources and partnered with several leading commercial reuse programs.

“Traditionally, refurbished devices were shipped to developing markets overseas, but there is a growing demand for refurbished devices locally,” he says.

“When a device has no commercial resale value however, consumers are encouraged to recycle them with MobileMuster.”

Spyro says MobileMuster’s expansion into reuse and repair education is typical for the program, which since 1998, has continued to adapt and grow in line with advancing technology and consumer expectations.

Celebrating its 21st birthday earlier this year, Spyro says MobileMuster began as a standard take-back program.

“Since it began, MobileMuster has collected over 1500 tonnes of mobile phone components, and now operates the most extensive drop off network of any stewardship program in the country,” he says.

At an anniversary event at Sydney’s The Mint in early November, Spyro highlighted the importance of collaboration and building strong relationships with collection network stakeholders.

“Our collection partners are critical to the success of the program. They are motivated and actively engage in supporting our work, including raising awareness to get more people recycling,” he says.

“We have also seen a significant growth in the number of repair stores joining the program, with over 220 stores now participating as a collection point,” he says.

The event was attended by Telstra Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs and Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association Chair Jane van Beelen and Assistant Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister Trevor Evans. Spyro says the event highlights how far the scheme has grown.

MobileMuster collected and recycled 84.1 tonnes of mobile phone components in 2019, including 1.2 million handsets and batteries. Spyro adds that one in three Australians have recycled a mobile phone since the program began.

“The success of our scheme relies on raising awareness through promotions, and addressing barriers to recycling through education,”
he says.

“We are committed to continuing to invest in the next generation of mobile phone users, educating them about the impact of their mobiles and how to act for a sustainable future.”

In addition to behavioural and awareness changes, Spyro says MobileMuster is committed to a high recovery rate through its recycling process, and notes that the design of mobiles phones has changed over the programs 21 years

“The material make-up of mobiles is always changing. Manufacturers are using more glass and metals than ever before – material that is highly recyclable and also in demand,”
he says.

With public scrutiny increasingly focused on the recycling industry, Spyro says MobileMuster is committed to total process transparency.

“The program only uses a single recycling partner, which helps us understand their end to end operations. We also audit their recycling processes yearly,” he says.

“Additionally, our recycling partner has experience working under Basel Convention rules, along with the importing and exporting of hazardous waste.”

Looking to the future, Spyro says MobileMuster will work closely with its members, stakeholders and the government to ensure the program’s continued success.

“Over the past five years, collections have remained high with MobileMuster meeting its targets and key performance indicators under the Product Stewardship Act’s voluntary accreditation,” he says.

“That said, there is always room for improvement. We need more consumers participating because, without them, we have a fundamental flaw in the circular economy concept.”

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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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