September 23, 2023

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Pushing Forward Better E-Waste Practises in Western Australia

The Environment Minister of Western Australia and its Innovation and ICT Minister recently held an industry presentation with three recipients of the WasteSorted E-Waste Grants to discuss findings from projects aimed at assisting in the development of long-term innovative ways to process e-waste. At the presentation, Curtin University, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Epichem shared findings from each of their funded projects.

Combined funding of $600,000 was allocated to the three organisations for research and development programs that will support new and innovative solutions to process collected e-waste and reduce the amount of e-waste ending up in landfills.

The projects included:

  • Curtin University – A project to recover valuable metals and remove toxic metals from e-waste using a safe leaching system;
  • CSIRO – A project to develop innovative bioprocesses to extract precious and base metals from e-waste through a laboratory-scale prototype; and,
  • Epichem – A project to test the use of oxidative hydrothermal dissolution (OHD) to break down e-waste to produce a range of useful and high-value chemicals.

Through the WasteSorted E-Waste Grants, the Western Australia Government has invested an additional $400,000 in six projects led by Total Green Recycling, Marlpa Waste Logistics, Shire of East Pilbara, City of Rockingham, WA Local Government Association and the City of Bunbury to enable an increase in the volume and range of e-waste collected for recycling.

The grants complement national action and support the WA Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 objectives to avoid waste, recover more value and resources from waste, and protect the environment from the impacts of waste.

WA’s Environment Minister stated that with e-waste becoming a growing concern, the Government is proud to see that Western Australian researchers are developing innovative ways to inform best practices when reducing e-waste ending up in landfills.

He noted that through funding such as the WasteSorted E-Waste Grants, WA is making progress towards the commitment to ban e-waste from Western Australian landfills by 2024.

Meanwhile, the Innovation and ICT Minister stated that in total, the WA Government has invested $1 million in nine initiatives which, when fully implemented, will divert approximately 1,000 tonnes of e-waste annually from landfills in Western Australia. He added that the WasteSorted E-Waste Grants are a good example of how different organisations, from across government, academia and industry, can collaborate to help solve this growing problem.

The WasteSorted e-waste 2020-21 grant was a Western Australian Government initiative funded by the New Industries Fund and administered by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation in partnership with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. The New Industries Fund is a $16.7 million investment over 4 years to support and accelerate new and emerging businesses.

As reliance on technology increases, e-waste is one of the fastest-growing waste streams. The global volume of e-waste has grown by 21% over the past 5 years, and in 2019 the UN estimated up to $80 billion worth of gold, silver, copper, palladium and other high-value materials were discarded annually as e-waste worldwide (The Global E-waste Monitor 2020).

This round focused on e-waste and provided funding for:

  • Stream 1: Innovative Processes (up to $200,000 per project)
  • Stream 2: Collection – maximum $80,000 (up to $40,000 per project, per annum for 2 years).

The objectives of the e-waste round are aligned with the priorities of both the New Industries Fund and the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030.

The objectives of Stream 1 are to support:

  • the growth of the recycling industry, technologies and jobs to address the growing local need to reduce the amount of e-waste going to landfills.
  • the recovery of more value and resources from e-waste and protecting the environment by managing e-waste responsibly.

The objective of Stream 2 is to increase the volume of e-waste being recycled in Western Australia, which will support job creation in the recycling industry.

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