The Microrecycling Hub is a five-year national program of cutting-edge research and development aimed to transform Australia’s waste and resource recovery industry by equipping it with advanced manufacturing capability, focusing on small-scale manufacturing of valuable materials recovered and reformed from complex battery and consumer wastes.
Australia’s waste and resource recovery industry is essential to the community and a significant contributor to the wellbeing of Australia’s economy and environment, with a turnover of over $15 billion per annum and employing 50,000 people. However, the industry is being increasingly challenged by problematic waste streams such as toxic batteries, coffee residue and biosolids, and government and community expectations are that these challenges must be met.
The Hub is focusing on recovering valuable materials from waste batteries (with 90% going to landfill) and other wastes to help create national materials sustainability and accelerate efforts to reduce emissions and decarbonise for the future.
Over 14,000 tons of batteries and 70,000 tonnes of coffee waste are destined for landfill each year in Australia, adding to current environmental impacts. Yet these waste streams are, in fact, renewable resources if the valuable materials can be ‘unlocked’ and at a suitable scale. The value of the opportunity from the effective recycling of these waste streams is enormous and multi-faceted. For example, the lithium lost from discarded batteries constitutes a future (2036) economic loss to the Australian economy, due to the estimated potential recoverable value, of between $813 million and $3 billion based on 2019 commodity prices.
The Hub, commencing in 2021, aims to help transform the waste industry by establishing viable means to recover these ‘lost resources’ through the researching and development of novel advanced manufacturing technologies that create new pathways from low-value waste to value-added materials.
See this news story webpage for details on the announcement by the ARC and UNSW.