Minimising E waste

Written on the 19 May 2009

 

MINIMISING landfill while creating a solution to Australia’s burgeoning e-waste epidemic has created vast business opportunities for a Burleigh Heads-based IT recycler.
Chief executive of Just Recycle IT Gary Steele, has tapped into a fast moving and evolving market.
As long as there is advancing computer technology, there’s a demand to recycle and remarket hardware to keep pace with new technology.
Clients include schools, banks and government departments and the company recently won a contract to recycle 1300 units for a firm in Victoria.
“The most pure form of recycling is to re-use,” says Steele.
The company is forecasting growth of 300 per cent in the next 12 months and has signed with a Singaporean circuit board recycler, where in one week, 90kg was gold was extracted.
“Businesses are realising that they can recover some capital,” says Steele.
“What we’re about is minimising land fill. We don’t ship our problems abroad. We have seen enough of kids running around on metal scrap heaps in China and India. It’s not ethical.”
Each component of unwanted PCs is stripped by technical director Stuart Hebron with plastic, steel, platinum and silicon all recyclable.
The company has also joined forces with an Adelaide company to dispose of glass tubes in monitors which are crushed and recycled.
“A lot of the products are on-sold to developing IT nations such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines where demand exceeds supply,” says Hebron.
E-waste is a sign of the times. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has indicated that around 1.6 million computers are dumped in landfill each year while another 1.8 million are stored away in a garage or office backroom.
Just Recycle IT has also partnered with international e-waste company TES-AMM. It has now become the first recycler in Australia to obtain a hazardous waste permit to export e-waste for recovery purposes.
The practice of exporting used and untested electronics equipment is illegal without a hazardous waste permit under the Federal Government‘s Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act. The Act which regulates Australia’s Basel Convention obligations is aimed at stopping the flow of hazardous waste such as e-waste to such countries where mountains of electronic scrap are piling up and polluting the soil, water and people in whole villages.
E-waste contains various hazardous elements such as mercury, lead and bromine which require responsible treatment methods.
Precious metals such as gold, silver, copper and platinum which are also contained similarly require effective recovery processes but not at the expense of safety and environment.
Steele says environmentally sound management of e-waste requires shared responsibility from all parties in the product lifecycle.

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