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New Zealand New e-Waste Tech a Step Closer to Circular Economy

Electronic waste can be a huge trash headache. A closer look will show they contain a laundry list of chemicals that can harm both people and the environment. Top of the list is mercury, lead, beryllium, brominated flame retardants and cadmium. New Zealand, however, has found a technology that can handle electronic wastes and recycle them.

A new state-of-the-art machine that sorts and shreds electronic waste has officially started operation in Auckland recently. Environment Minister David Parker pressed start on the new BLUBOX machine, a project supported by a NZ$ 1.5 million grant from the government’s Waste Minimisation Fund.

The BLUBOX machine is a step forward for New Zealand in its transition toward a circular economy. We estimate our e-waste recycling rate at less than two per cent. This is well behind other countries, and we need to catch up with those showing the way.

– David Parker, Minister, Ministry for the Environment

The recycling technology can salvage useful materials from electronic waste. Because e-waste contains valuable materials such as gold, silver, copper, platinum, palladium and brass as well as hazardous toxins, including mercury, being able to safely and efficiently recover and recycle e-waste has economic, as well as human and environmental health, benefits.

BLUBOX shreds and optically sorts hard to recycle electronic waste in an enclosed negative pressure system, which can recover up to 90% of e-waste components. Hard to recycle electronic waste includes flat panel displays, laptops, televisions, mobile phones and light bulbs. The majority of e-waste is lamps and flat-screen items.

It’s a comprehensive solution to an age-old problem. This technology will expand Computer Recycling’s e-waste processing capacity from an average of 1,300 tonnes per year to 2,000 tonnes each year. As more e-waste becomes available, the processing capacity of the equipment can be lifted to 6,000 tonnes or more per year.

This initiative is a good example of the comprehensive action the government is taking on waste, disclosed David Parker. Further, he detailed that in July 2020, the government declared electrical and electronic products as one of six ‘priority products’ for regulated product stewardship schemes under the Waste Minimisation Act.

This technology is an important part of the New Zealand government’s transition to a low-waste circular economy. It enables them to improve the infrastructure needed to recycle, which is often supported by the Waste Minimisation Fund, the minister added. Such an e-waste technology can play a central role in the digital transformation of Aoteroa. It’s a brilliant option that allows people to make the most of electronic waste while at the same time being able to help the environment.

More and more a circular economy has become synonymous with digital adoption. Recently, another great way to manage environmental risks has been shown with the Digital Cities, an Internet of Things (IoT) twinning project in Wellington, the capital city. It reveals how technology applied right can help people live better lives. The Digital Cities allows Wellington stakeholders to foresee possible environmental woes that can threaten the city before they even materialise.

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