A win (and a loss) for local mercury recycling

Ecocycle recently achieved a small victory in helping to prevent the unnecessary shipment of mercury-containing waste overseas.

A major natural gas producer voluntarily surrendered its hazardous waste export permit the evening before an Administrative Appeals Tribunal hearing was set to revoke the permit.

The proceedings were instigated by Ecocycle, Australia’s only fully licensed mercury recycling company.

It was, however, only a partial win for the environment.

Two foreign-owned companies have announced plans to build mercury recycling plants in Western Australia – one at Karratha, the other at Kwinana.

Until these new plants are built, commissioned and licensed, the mercury waste will continue to be stockpiled by the gas extraction company as it has declined to utilise the local, Australian-owned alternative. Why that is the case is unclear.

“Ecocycle has been audited by a number of major companies in the resource sector and declared capable of recycling this type of waste in the necessary quantities,” said Ecocycle Business Development Manager Daryl Moyle.

With this local, viable mercury recycling solution being available for many years, a number of questions are raised.

Why seek to export mercury-containing waste in the first place? It introduces additional, unnecessary risks.

With export ruled out, why contract to treat it in a non-existent plant with the result being that hazardous waste needs to be stored for an unknown length of time?

Without knowing what technologies the new plants will use, how can the parties be sure that, even when operating, the waste will be properly treated?

With the Minamata Convention on Mercury coming into force on August 16 what will the Australian government do to ensure that all parties comply with the convention and ensure mercury waste is correctly treated?

“It’s a disappointing situation,” Mr Moyle said.

“We have offered to undertake trial runs with the waste that is being stockpiled, but so far the company in question hasn’t given us the opportunity to demonstrate our capability.”

Resource extraction companies seeking a proven solution to the problem of mercury-containing waste can contact Ecocycle on 1300 32 62 92.

News & Media

Related News