Automated e-waste recycling plant
Sims Recycling Solutions, with the support of the Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, has opened an automated e-recycling plant in Villawood, Sydney.
E-waste is currently the fastest growing waste stream in the country and includes the computers, televisions, printers, radios, stereos, DVD players and mobile phones that Australians purchase and discard by the tens of thousands every week.
“It is estimated that Australians generate up to 140,000 tonnes of e-waste annually and nearly all of this ends up in landfill,” Jeremy Sutcliffe, Sims’ executive director and chairman of Sims Recycling Solutions, said.
Recycling e-waste also has the ability to dramatically reduce carbon emissions.
“Every tonne of e-waste recycled prevents 3–5 tonnes of carbon gases from being emitted to the atmosphere,” Sutcliffe said.
“The Sims plant has the ability to reduce carbon emissions in Australia by 100,000 tonnes in its first year of operation alone — equivalent to taking 25,000 cars off the road for 12 months.”
Australia is one of only very few developed countries in the world not to have introduced compulsory legislation around the recycling of e-waste, and Sutcliffe says this is something the government must act on now.
“E-recycling rates in Australia have been very poor, with less than 4% of the e-waste generated being processed,” Sutcliffe said.
“Compare this to countries that have introduced stewardship programs and e-recycling legislation, including all countries in the EU, some states in the US, Japan and Korea, which now have e-waste recycling rates in excess of 80%.
“Even non-OECD countries like the Philippines have e-waste recycling programs.
“Sims’ e-recycling plant will have the capacity to recycle 20,000 tonnes worth of e-waste annually, which is roughly equal to the total amount of e-waste generated in NSW, so it is a very positive step in the right direction.”
E-waste processed at Sims’ e-recycling plant will be separated into steel, plastics, copper and aluminium secondary raw materials, circuit boards, glass, paper and packaging.
“The plant will achieve recycling rates in excess of 98%. If a 20 kg computer system is brought to us, all but 200 g will be recycled. Generally, the only waste will be paper labels and scraps of rubber,” Sutcliffe said.
The plastics and glass will be sold back for recycling into new products to the IT and electrical manufacturing industries and the metals will be sold into various industries across the globe for remanufacturing into new products.
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