The success of the TechCollect NZ pilot programme and its efforts to reduce the harmful impacts mismanaged e-waste can have on the New Zealand environment depends on working with reliable partners who meet stringent health, safety, and environmental standards. The Recycling Group Limited (RGL) is a critical partner and major supporter of TechCollect NZ’s mission to drive circular economy outcomes for e-waste in Aotearoa.
Wayne Grieve, RGL’s General Manager comments, “We started as a business unit of RGL and grew out from that. Our service offerings centre around providing quality, auditable and transparent end-of-life solutions for our customers. The ability to offer auditable and transparent services is not something that all recyclers in New Zealand can say. RGL’s services are supported by ISO accreditations and are available nationwide with facilities in both Auckland and Christchurch.”
RGL has been working with TechCollect NZ since the pilot programme first launched in 2018. Grieve says, “RGL has enjoyed the relationship with TechCollect NZ. From fledgling beginnings to now being able to showcase just what can be done with e-waste recycling in NZ. We are very happy to have played our part in assisting with the development of a working model to address NZ’s e-waste recycling issues and ensure appropriate standards are set and maintained”.
All e-waste collected by TechCollect NZ’s pilot programme is processed by RGL. Grieve explains what happens to the e-waste after it is dropped off and comes to RGL for processing, “first and foremost, all e-waste items are documented. From there all e-waste enters a dismantling process specifically developed for each e-waste type. In order to ensure maximum recovery rates from the recycling process, a “one size fits all” approach cannot be taken. Job Elements or SOPs [Standard Operating Procedures] have been developed and are documented for all of our processes. Not only are these used for staff training, they also play a significant part in our quality control processes”.
Grieve says, “most of the materials recovered from e-waste can be fully processed in New Zealand with a couple of exceptions, including plastics and circuit boards. All plastics recovered through RGL’s dismantling processes are sorted and granulated by polymer type, then sold to a broker so it can re-enter global manufacturing processes and be reused to make new products. While there has been some initial development of local recycling services for circuit boards, this has not yet transitioned into a commercially viable option. Hence, recovered circuit boards leave New Zealand under a hazardous waste export permit and are processed in a specialist smelter in southern Japan.”
Committed to quality, transparency, and industry best practice, RGL holds certification to ISO standards 9001 (Quality management) and 14001 (Environmental management systems). The next step is for RGL is to be accredited to AS/NZS 5377:2013, New Zealand’s only standard for collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment.
While the work of RGL and TechCollect NZ has delivered significant results and many beneficial outcomes for the environment, Grieve advises, “more needs to be done across the nation, and not just for e-waste recycling. I believe the key to achieving successful recycling outcomes in New Zealand requires an equal focus on education and investment in infrastructure to support the recycling sector. Education assists with ensuring a reuse/recycling mindset is prevalent in NZ society. I think many people are unaware of the possibilities that could be introduced to ensure NZ has a sound recycling base. Commitment without politics is required”.