From trash to treasure:
Australia in a take-make-remake world
In 2014-15 Australia produced 64 million tonnes of waste, the equivalent of 2.7 tonnes for every person.1 The good news is that 60% of this waste is recycled, however waste generation per person has increased by 1% per annum since 2007-08, and this trend is projected to continue. E-waste, including smart phones, tablets, laptops and computers generated 587,000 tonnes of waste in 2014. Of these discarded materials about 10% is exported for re-use, 65% is collected for materials recovery, and 25% goes to landfill 2
Not only do many of these products contain hazardous materials that should not be going into landfill, they also contain valuable, finite materials such as gold, copper, and platinum. Ten kilograms of electronic waste can yield 2 grams of gold, equivalent to the gold in a wedding ring. This may not seem much, until you compare it against the 10,000 tonnes of ore that would need to be processed to extract the same amount of gold from a mine site.
The term ‘circular economy’ (CE) has