CHOICE membership

RECYCLING : is it a farce in Australia?


In Australia, waste is a state and local government responsibility, including the collection and management of materials recovered through recycling programs. The Commonwealth government has little responsibility other than their ability to regulate exports from Australia…which is why in an earlier post the Commonwealth has intentions of banning the export of contaminated recycled materials which many other countries have already banned the import of.

It is also worth noting that at COAG, Queensland Premier Palaszczuk advised ''we’re putting in place in Queensland a Resource Recovery Fund of $100 million. We want to attract investment here to look at how we can recycle more. ’ i expect these monies will be that raised from the Queensland waste levy and will be used to maximise the quality of recyclables collected and to find a home for such materials.

It would be good if other state governments also contributed to cleaning up the resource recovery industry and providing funds for further investment in the industry, rather than trying to ‘pass the buck’ to others. They all, except Tasmania, collect waste levies which could also be used for such purposes.


The current state of play:


In Japan it’s illegal to throw out old appliances. They get pulled apart and recycled into new,

Then there is this


I joined a small free tour of the e-waste microfactory last week. Photographs were not permitted, but some of the work they are doing is fascinating.

As just one example: typically, when electronic circuit boards are ‘recycled’, the parties doing the work ( almost always in third world countries ) are doing it to retrieve just one element, eg gold, or copper. The rest of the board gets burned as waste, resulting in plenty of nasties getting into the atmosphere and soil. The solution to this is explained in the video.

Another example is recovering cobalt from hard disc drives. You can imagine how many millions of these await recycling around the world. If we did more recycling here in Australia, we would buy less cobalt from the major miner ( the Congo, via China ).


It is on my bucket list for when I am next in Sydney…along with a Choice lab tour.


I got the impression that the tour I attended was a one-off, but it would certainly be worth querying Science at UNSW. I toured in the early evening. During the day when the microfactory is in use, tours might be too risky.

A CHOICE lab tour is, I think I can say, guaranteed, for a Consumer Defender such as yourself ! I look forward to you ticking that one off your list.