South Australia first in Australia to ban e-waste to landfill; Nystar plant to recover resources

Nystar's enlarged Port Pirie plant was expected to expand its range of e-waste recovery.

South Australia was the first Australian state to ban e-waste going to landfill. Whitegoods were banned from direct landfill disposal since 2011 and computers, televisions and fluorescent lighting from metropolitan Adelaide were banned from being disposed of directly to landfill in 2012. From 2013, those wastes and other e-waste are banned from direct landfill disposal across all of South Australia.

E-waste comprises waste electrical or electronic equipment. Televisions, computers and their peripherals (mice, keyboards), whitegoods and fluorescent lighting are all forms of e-waste. E-waste can contain hazardous materials including heavy metals and glass that, if broken or damaged, pose an environmental hazard. Around 90% of what is used to make televisions and computers can be recycled, saving valuable resources. Other e-waste can also be readily recycled.

But e-waste has been liable to be landfilled interstate of exported to countries without environmental or health and safety rules.

South Australia provided an important development for the processing Australian e-waste, with the commissioning of the $514 million transformation of Nystar’s Port Pirie smelter in 2017 that included a multi-metals processing and recovery plant. Nyrstar was expected to expand the range of electronic waste (e-waste) for processing in the state.

A global multi-metals business, Nyrstar, with plants in Europe and North America, would accept electronic products such as printed computer circuit boards, cathode ray tubes (CRT), mobile phones and related devices. The expanded plant was also expected to take  photovoltaic cells from roof solar panels, alkaline batteries and potentially other batteries such as lead acid and nickel cadmium. Treatment rates of e-waste from 2018 were expected to be 3000 tonnes a year, increasing to more than 20,000 tonnes as the plant ramped up, with a recovery of 98% of metal content.

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