Councils can benefit from less waste going to landfill, lower disposal costs.
Ecycle Solutions is helping regional and city councils around Australia reduce pressure on landfill through innovative e-waste collection, recycling and disposal services.
Ecycle collects redundant computers, printers and TVs, as well as Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), a highly toxic material used in packaging of white and brown goods.
In doing so, Ecycle makes it easier and cheaper to dispose of e-waste and its recycling methods ensure more waste is reused and less ends up in landfills, helping councils.
“Ewaste is a growing problem for the community,” says Ecycle general manager Chris Tangey. “Australians are among the world’s biggest consumers of technology and too much e-waste still finishes up in landfill and is not recycled.”
Ewaste is Australia’s fastest-growing type of waste. About 44 million TVs and computers, equivalent to 181,000 tonnes of e-waste, will reach the end of their useful life by 2027-28, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The Federal Government introduced in 2011 the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS), an industry-funded program requiring companies importing or manufacturing more than 5,000 TVs, computers or printers each year to help recover end-of-life products and divert them from landfill.
QLS Group, a leading warehousing, logistics and distribution company, established Ecycle in 2013 to enable companies to meet their NTCRS obligations and help councils, the community and environment. Ecycle uses QLS’ fleet of more than 90 trucks for the service.
Ecycle was granted co-regulatory approval in 2013 to recycle computer products under the NTCRS and is working with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), which the Federal Government in 2018 endorsed to lead its target of achieving 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025.
Strong demand for Ecycle services
Ecycle has grown quickly since launch. It works with over 300 manufacturers and retailers, including Harvey Norman and The Good Guys (owned by JB Hi-Fi). Ecycle expects to collect 11,000 tonnes of e-waste in FY19, about a fifth of total e-waste disposal in Australia.
Ecycle typically provides ewaste collection cages at retailers or council sites and bags for EPS disposal. It returns the ewaste to recyclers who strip off its copper, glass, plastics, computer motherboards and other materials. About 90 per cent of the waste is reused.
Tangey says Ecycle’s point of difference is its ability to serve regional and remote communities. “Councils in large cities usually have several ewaste options and recycling facilities at their waste-transfer stations. Most regional councils don’t have the ewaste scale for specialist recycling facilities, so it ends up in local landfill.”
Ecycle can service most councils around Australia, says Tangey. “QLS Group is known for providing expert logistics service in regional and remote areas. Ecycle leverages that infrastructure to give communities access to state-of-the-art ewaste collection services.”
Tangey says Ecycle works with councils to promote the service to local businesses (which provide collection points) and residents, and also collects council e-waste. “The ewaste collection is free and our EPS disposal costs about 70 per cent less than putting it in landfill. It’s a win-win for councils, business, the community and, most importantly, the environment.”
Tangey says Ecycle has strong values and is proud of its work with Enable Social Enterprise, an impressive not-for-profit organisation that has programs to address unemployment, poverty, social inclusion and ewaste.
Originally published in the Australian Local Government Yearbook.