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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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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