Expanding the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) to include all electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) will help foster economies of scale, according to a new report from the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform (ANZRP).
The Federal Government’s long-awaited Product Stewardship Act 2011 review recommends expanding the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) to include all electrical and electronic products with a plug or battery.
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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.”
The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has called for a regulated product stewardship program for batteries by 2020.
It has called on the Federal Environment Minister to broaden the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) to include all types of handheld batteries up to five kilograms.
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Under the NTCRS, more than 1800 collection services are available to the public which could be used to include batteries, according to NWRIC.
Lithium ion batteries pose hazards in kerbside recycling bins, potentially leading to spontaneous combustion if pierced due to mechanical handling in waste collection trucks and recycling facilities.
Lithium, nickel, lead and cadmium are finite resource in waste batteries that can be highly recyclable if correctly separated.
According to the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative only three per cent of batteries are recycled, with 70 per cent being sent to landfill.
NWRIC said that such a low recycling rate means regulator intervention is the only option.
“With a combination of sensible regulation, targeted investment and consumer education, almost all of Australia’s used batteries can be safely recycled. This would reduce the risk of fires at recycling facilities and minimise the contamination of compost,” NWRIC said in a release.
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