A Victorian ban on e-waste being dumped in skips or bins destined for landfill comes into force from July 1st. The ban follows a similar decision of the South Australian government in 2013. Banned substances contained within e-waste include, lead, mercury, cadmium, barium and lithium. These substances carry substantial environmental risks should they leach into our soils and waterways. Certainly, Victorian based businesses must introduce an appropriate e-waste environmental strategy for the new financial year.
The world generates 44.7 million tonnes annually of e-waste. In contrast, Australia generates 700,000 tonnes annually. Most noteworthy, Global e-waste will increase by almost 17% to 52.2 million tonnes in 2021. This represents an increase of almost 8% every year.
The opportunity for Australia is to develop its own sophisticated e-scrap industry. Precious metal recycling will also reduce the impact on the environment. It will provide inputs into the growing market for digital technologies, including mobile phones, computing and electronic vehicles.
In contrast, the global e-scrap industry was valued at US$11 billion in 2014 and research company, ‘Transparency Market Research’, expect a compound annual growth rate of 15.7% from 2015 to 2022. The UN Environment programme suggests that volumes are increasing three times faster than other types of municipal wastes.
Most noteworthy is China threatening to cut its rare earth supply, as a result of its trade war with the US. This has thrown the spotlight on Australia who are the world’s second-largest producer to make up the shortfall. Likewise, opportunities also exist for Australia to grow their e-waste recycling industry through recycling of rare metals for further reprocessing.
Victorian ban sparks investment
The Recycal group has embarked on a major investment in e-waste with the creation of a new entity called ‘eco e-waste’. Most noteworthy the company will focus on recycling of old laptops computers, mobile phones and televisions, and other electronic products.