Environmental success

Electronic Recycling Australia (ERA) has just recorded its biggest year yet, processing 3.25 million kilograms of e-waste, moving to a huge new site and introducing polystyrene foam recycling.

ERA Operations Manager Paul Marshall says in the 2019-2020 financial year, ERA diverted more than 3 million kilograms of e-waste from South Australian landfill, with a recycling rate above 90 per cent.

“It’s been a great effort from everyone involved, from members of the public to local councils, downstream customers, and most of all, our fantastic team,” Paul says.

ERA provides meaningful, ongoing employment for 50 people with disability, who focus on dismantling and sorting old electronic equipment including computers, phones and televisions that would otherwise go to landfill.

And the team is already tracking towards an even bigger financial year in 2020-2021, processing an average 300 tonnes a month so far. While the majority of ERA’s commodities go to South Korea and Japan, there are strong ties with South Australian companies including Trading Metals at Gillman and Nyrstar at Port Pirie.

ERA has started polystyrene recycling and, while still ramping up to full capacity, it is already proving popular with businesses and the general public.

Currently, any member of the public can drop polystyrene foam at ERA’s Ottoway premises (301 Grand Junction Road, Ottoway, enter via Duncan Court), while ERA continues to expand its pickup service to businesses.

Paul says ERA condenses a 40-foot container of polystyrene down to one pallet of hardened material, which then goes on to make recycled products.

“I find the public to be very passionate about recycling, and people have been especially enthusiastic about polystyrene recycling, especially as we are one of only a couple places in SA which offer this,” he says.

“We get people who don’t want to just put it in the bin at home; instead they’ll ring and say they’ll come for a drive because they don’t want it to go to landfill.”

ERA moved to its new site at Ottoway after outgrowing its former home at Underdale. ERA shares the Ottoway site with three other Minda and SA Group Enterprises businesses – Minda ASSIST Therapy, WSL and Repack. The shared site enables supported employees to try new work areas between the three commercial businesses (ERA, WSL and Repack).

Members of the public can take polystyrene foam and old electronic items to ERA’s Ottoway site. ERA also has over 30 Unplug N Drop locations around South Australia for electronic items – see the full list of locations here.