21 Apr 2022

Computer Recycling unveils new machine to deal with NZ's huge e-waste problem

From Checkpoint, 5:22 pm on 21 April 2022

A new state-of-the-art machine that sorts and shreds electronic waste has officially started operation in Auckland.

The BLUBOX machine is aiming to catapult New Zealand from one of the worst electronic waste offenders to one of the best.

The recycling machine is one of eight in the world and was switched on for the first time at Computer Recycling in Penrose on Thursday afternoon.

The technology shreds and sorts e-waste in an enclosed negative pressure system, recovering up to 90 percent of components.

E-waste items considered hard to recycle include mobile phones, light bulbs, flat screen TVs and more.

Environment Minister David Parker was present at the launch of the new machine, which was supported by a $1.5 million grant from the Waste Minimisation Fund.

Parker said the technology would enable New Zealand to catch up to recycling rates of other countries.

"The BLUBOX machine is a step forward for New Zealand in its transition toward a circular economy," Parker said.

"We estimate our e-waste recycling rate at less than two percent. This is well behind other countries, and we need to catch up with those showing the way."

Computer Recycling's processing capacity has increased from 1300 tonnes per year to 2000 tonnes per year, with this eventually expected to reach 6000 tonnes per year as more e-waste becomes available.

Because e-waste contains valuable materials and hazardous toxins, improving e-waste recycling capabilities would lead to better economic and environmental outcomes, Parker said.

Computer Recycling general manager Patrick Moynahan told Checkpoint the addition of the BLUBOX machine allowed them to process between 8000-9000 kilos of e-waste per shift.

After e-waste components are shredded and sorted, Moynahan said they would then be graded and sorted into specific commodities.

The sorted components would then be shipped overseas to refineries for the next step of the recycling process. 

"We've established down stream relationships with what are called refineries overseas so the graded material will in many cases go to Belgium or to South Korea where it is refined back into the base material."

He said Computer Recycling had also partnered with New Zealand company Global Metal Solutions to sort and ship large amounts of scrap elements on it behalf.