Feb 21, 2021, 13:00 PM

Victoria’s waste recycling movement will get a long overdue shot in the arm this week, when the switch is flipped on a revolutionary mobile e-waste recycling factory at the Citywide Transfer Station in West Melbourne.

The facility includes manual disassembly stations and plastic shredding equipment to process the reusable components of computers, printers, TVs and other electronic devices into separate recycling streams – filling a critical need for municipal councils, and laying a foundation for a network of mobile e-waste facilities that could one day cover regional Victoria.

The first facility of its kind in Australia, the factory is the brainchild of leading e-waste product steward ANZRP, part funded by Sustainability Victoria and supported by its e-waste collection partners, Citywide and the City of Melbourne.

While a formal launch is expected in April, the pioneering plant is currently undergoing international certification to ensure the safe and environmentally sound collection, storage, transportation and treatment of its operations. Upon certification, e-waste delivered to the facility will be sorted by two full-time staff from Outlook Environmental   – a social enterprise that employs and trains disadvantaged workers.

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“This is a compelling win-win project which combines vital e-waste processing, public education, and employment opportunities for some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Savvas Aidonopoulos, ANZRP’s Communications and Engagement Manager.

The mobile factory is another significant step on Citywide and the City of Melbourne’s path to cement the foundations of a ‘circular economy’ – reducing the consumption of finite resources, and ensuring as much waste as possible is returned to productive purpose.

“Citywide has a well-documented commitment to environmentally sustainable outcomes, such as its hot-water weedkilling, food-waste recycling, and bicycle waste collections,” said Mr Aidonopoulos. “They were the obvious partner for us, as they have a strong relationship with both ANZRP and Outlook, and their community credentials are second to none.”

Travis Martin, Commercial Waste Manager at Citywide, said: “This is a significant development towards processing e-waste where it’s produced, which will dramatically reduce emissions from transport to multiple processing sites. As well as e-waste collected by councils, places like Dynon Road can receive it directly from conscientious citizens through our regular drop-off events.”

World-class compliance

The main goal of the current trial is for ANZRP to demonstrate compliance with the highest ecological and safety standards for e-waste recycling, including the world-class AS/NZS 5377 management standard developed by the Australian and New Zealand Governments.

“In Australia, e-waste recycling has traditionally relied on a hub-and-spoke model that transports the product to a central processing site, where the sorting and first-stage processing occurs,” explained Mr Aidonopoulos. “This might be OK in an urban environment, but in regional areas where there are often huge distances between sites, it’s a hugely profligate undertaking.

“We are in discussions with several regional councils to host our mobile factory, with all the obvious benefits, including local employment and reducing recycling’s environmental footprint. But without the support of Citywide, and Travis [Martin] in particular, none of this would have been possible.”

The mobile plant comprises two shipping containers with a generator, conveyor-belt and blower to facilitate the sorting of waste into different streams. An industrial shredder and granulator compact the plastic components which make up most e-waste, while a blower, sorting tables and bins enable staff to sort circuit boards, keyboards, batteries, cables, copper wire, metals, and glass for further processing.

Prior to the Victorian Government’s 2019 e-waste ban, it was estimated that the state generated more than 53,000 tonnes of e-waste each year – most of which made its way into landfill. The mobile plant at Dynon Road is part of a major commitment by the Victorian Government to upgrade e-waste processing across the state, and to alert the public to the dangers of diverting e-waste to landfill.

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Media Contact:
Simon Mossman - Group Corporate Communications 
M 0427 307 216 
simon.mossman@citywide.com.au