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Electronic waste, or e-waste, includes electronic goods such as phones, televisions, stereos, computers and printers. E-waste is world's fastest growing form of garbage.
The plant, which was opened by Sim's Recycling Solutions, a subsidiary of Sims Metal Management, has the capacity to process about 20,000 tons of e-waste every year. However, even at full capacity this is only a faction of the 120,000 to 140,000 tons of e-waste produced by Australians every year. Sims estimates that it is growing 3-5 times faster than other waste streams and only four per cent of Australia's e-waste is recycled.
Photo credits: Alex Serpo, ZDNet.com.au
The Sims plant was opened by former Australian rocker and Minster for Environment Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett.
Garrett was drilled by the press on whether the Federal Labour Government intends to make the recycling of e-waste mandatory, however he did not directly take a stance on the issue. He said: "What I want to do is look at the best measures we can agree with states and also local councils to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill."
"The Commonwealth has signalled its intention to develop a national waste policy," he said. However the Minister did not give any time frame.
"Everywhere else where we operate, to varying degrees, there is a legislative framework, which by and large ... [creates] a significant degree of producer responsibility," said Jeremy Sutcliff, Sim's executive director (pictured) in an interview after his speech. "That comes at a cost, and the cost may or may not come back to the consumer."
By everywhere else, Sutcliffe was referring to the EU, many states of the US, Japan and Korea, where recycling of e-waste is in "excess of 80 per cent".
"There is a significant business risk in this plant, in so far as if Australia doesn't legislate, that will not generate the flows of materials to make it a low cost operation," he said.
"I'm in part putting financial pressure on the government. They have written all these reports, and nothing happened. We have put the plant in, now [the government] has got no excuse, something has got to happen. "