The year of the waste ban - a step in the right direction for Australia's recycling industry

A year on from the start of China’s National Sword policy, recycling industries and governments across the world are still adjusting to the new and rapidly changing market conditions. Policies are also evolving: by early 2019, China will prohibit the import of low-grade copper scrap (specifically small motors and insulated wires), and it has signaled its intention to ban the import of all solid waste by 2020. While many in the recycling industry have been holding out hope for a policy reversal, it is unlikely that the industry will ever be able to go back to business as usual.

As other key countries in South-East Asia follow suit with their own waste import bans, Australia (along with the EU, North America, and other developed nations) is under significant pressure to develop its own materials processing capacity, or at least improve material sorting and quality, and reduce contamination levels. While household recyclables were the main focus for state government support in 2018, e-waste has been designated as a priority stream for funding in NSW, and Victoria’s e-waste ban which comes into force in July will likely drive further opportunities for investment in the sector.

The next few years are likely to be challenging for recyclers as downstream supply chains reorganise and regulatory risks remain uncertain. However, as stated by the European Electronics Recycling Association last year, this is an opportunity for the transition to a circular economy, and Australia is no exception. The combined effect of the National Sword and greater public awareness of waste issues (in part thanks to the ABC’s War on Waste) is creating an environment which can drive much-needed innovation in the resource recovery sector, for example:

  • The microfactory recycling model, which uses innovative methods to maximise value recovery from waste without relying on economies of scale;
  • Low-energy and low-impact metal recovery and purification (e.g. low temperature methods such as environmentally friendly hydrometallurgy, or biohydrometallurgy);
  • Development of automated and robotic dismantling and sorting techniques, driven by exponential growth in AI technologies.

As the only not-for-profit, industry-for-industry Co-regulatory Arrangement operating under the NTCRS, ANZRP is in constant discussions with businesses at the forefront of such technological development. We are also formally advocating for Government to assist in the development of downstream markets within the country, so that Australia can reap the environmental and economic rewards of keeping materials in a closed manufacturing loop.

China’s decision is the consequence of market failure and prolonged unsustainable business practice; however, with strong leadership, government support, and innovation across the supply chain – both upstream and downstream – the waste sector can evolve and develop into a more resilient and more sustainable industry.

 

Dr Rob Hewlett, Program Assistant


ANZRP is Social Traders certified

 

ANZRP is proud to announce we have recently achieved Social Traders Certification, joining a community of Australian businesses that are driven by a social purpose.

Social Traders exists to create jobs for disadvantaged Australians by linking business and government buyers with social enterprises.

As a supplier of an e-waste collection service, we join a network of 250 social enterprises and 36 buyer members looking to improve the social sustainability of their procurement.

Our goal in joining this network is to connect with like-minded organisations and provide our e-waste collection service to a greater number of Australian businesses and government agencies.

Since 2008, Social Traders has facilitated deals between buyers and social enterprises worth $28million and supported 350 jobs for disadvantaged people.

We look forward to the rewards this membership will bring, and the ways we can work with a community of organisations who share our values to achieve a wonderful outcome for all involved.

Visit their website to read more about their fantastic work.


People in workshop recycling computer parts

International E-Waste Day

October 13 marks the first International E-Waste Day. Founded by the WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) Forum, the day aims to raise the public profile of responsible e-waste recycling and encourage consumers to recycle their e-waste with the resulting increase in recycling rates on the day itself and into the future.

We are representing Australia this inaugural International E-Waste Day, and will be raising awareness of e-waste recycling and educating the public about TechCollect, our national e-waste recycling program. Help us spread the word this October 13.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • 50 million tonnes of e-waste will be generated globally in 2018.
  • Electronic waste is the largest growing waste stream in Australia.
  • Aussies trash 22 million printers, keyboards, mice and peripherals a year.
  • Australians have recycled enough e-waste through the TechCollect program to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge with the steel alone!

WHAT CAN WE DO?

 Everyone has a role to play in changing consumer habits and moving towards a circular economy – from individuals, to SMEs and international organisations.

Once your electronic device reaches its end-of-life, recycling is the next step in the product’s lifecycle. Reusing these valuable resources in the manufacture of new products closes the loop.

TechCollect provides a free, simple, environmentally-responsible solution for individuals.  There are over 100 TechCollect drop-off sites around Australia where you can take your old/unused electronics and ensure they are responsibly recycled.

If you are a small business looking for an e-waste recycling solution, call us on 1300 229 837 to see if you qualify for a free pick-up.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • 66% of the world’s population is covered by e-waste legislation, however
  • 40 million tonnes of e-waste per annum is either placed in landfill, burned or illegally traded.

 WE RESPONSIBLY RECYCLE E-WASTE 

All e-waste that is dropped off at any TechCollect site is sent directly to our approved recycling partner network in Australia. Our recycling partners:

  • ensure at least 90% of all materials recovered from the e-waste we collect and recycle are reintroduced as raw materials in the manufacture of new products
  • operate to sound environmental and workplace health and safety standards

We are lobbying for downstream end-markets to be developed in Australia

To encourage a circular economy, we are actively lobbying for the development of local markets for recycling and for the use of recycled materials. We recently submitted our Consultation Paper, responding to the Department of the Environment and Energy’s review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, under which we operate.

Help us spread the word about International E-Waste Day on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.