Eco Voice Q & A: Anthony Karam, Founder and CEO of Sircel

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Anthony Karam, Founder and CEO of Sircel 

Background

After more than 20 years of experience as a commercial lawyer, in-house counsel, corporate consultant and an executive-level manager of businesses in the mining and technology sectors, Anthony Karam started on a different journey after seeing, first-hand, the enormous e-waste landfill dumps in West Africa back in 2017. At the same time, he was exposed to emerging, but mostly untested, new technologies aimed at solving complex challenges. These experiences ignited a passion and kickstarted an investigation into what was really happening with the world’s stockpile of e-waste.

Anthony has dedicated the last six years to solving the e-waste problem by asking, what if we could do better? What would it take? And what would it look like? After months of travelling the world, bringing together some great minds and testing solutions, he has led Sircel to achieve what many along the journey thought impossible – creating an end-to-end solution that recycles up to 100% of e-waste at scale.

Anthony continues to lead the growing Sircel team with the catch cry “making better possible” as the company expands its operational footprint to eradicate electronic waste from landfill, globally.

To provide insights into e-waste, Tim Langdon, publisher of Eco Voice, had the pleasure of facilitating a Q & A with Anthony Karam, Founder and CEO of Sircel.

Q1. What is e-waste?

E-waste, simply put, is any appliance with an electrical plug or separate charger. It spans items used both in work and home environments that require a power source, ranging from phones, laptops, PCs and TVs to everyday household appliances. It also extends to the things we don’t see in our daily lives like IT servers and telecommunication exchanges. Essentially, e-waste refers to any electronic product that has reached its ‘end of life’, which is to say it is no longer wanted, not functional, or obsolete.

Q2. Why is e-waste important in terms of sustainability?

E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream on the planet, with the United Nations expecting it to reach 74m tonnes a year by 2030. It’s become a global crisis, and Australia is part of the problem (we are among the world’s worst producers of e-waste at 21.7kg per capita). This is why it was so important to us to build a genuine end-to-end solution that can divert up to 100% of e-waste from landfill. Extracting the source materials for reuse in the circular economy reduces our reliance on conventional mining and virgin materials. This means that we’re minimising not only what goes back into the earth, but what we’re pulling out of it.

Q3. What types of e-waste can be recycled and into what?

All types of e-waste can be recycled, which gives us a wide array of source materials to reuse.  For example, aluminium and steel can be separated and directed back into manufacturing, copper we can extract via mechanical and metallurgical processes and resell and we are directing plastics into manufacturing for innovative new farming materials such as fence posts.

Q4. How far have we come in Australia in terms of regulations and standards around e-waste processing?

Every state in Australia differs when it comes the level of regulation with a lack of consistent e-waste legislation across the board. In New South Wales, there’s no stand-alone e-waste legislation at all. Advocacy for regulatory changes is vital to drive progress in e-waste processing and by extension, the circular economy. Expert assistance is needed to influence government decision-making and get new legislation across the line. But the reality is, addressing Australia’s role in this global crisis will take effort from all of us; governments, businesses and the public alike.

Q5. What can businesses do to improve e-waste adoption and standards?

Businesses play a key role in enhancing e-waste adoption and standards. The most important thing to ensure is that they recognise the re-use of end of life electronics as a distinct business issue and take steps to implement an e-waste solution that is ethical and effective. Businesses should be asking their e-waste provider questions around what happens to their collected e-waste, what percentage is diverted from landfill, what accreditation and certification standards they hold, what processing methods they employ, and what their reporting processes look like. And if their provider is using an ITAD (IT asset disposition) supplier to erase the sensitive data stored on obsolete and outdated equipment prior to disposal, businesses should be asking what exactly happens with the materials that they provide.

Q6. What can consumers do to improve e-waste adoption and standards?

Consumers also have a significant role to play to improve e-waste adoption and standards by questioning the brands they buy from and the e-waste collection services they may use. If you’re a consumer, ask yourself these questions:

“Why do the electronics I buy have such a short life span?”

“What happens to my e-waste once I hand it over?”

“Does it stay in Australia or is it being shipped overseas?”

“Is there anything I could be doing to reduce the amount of e-waste I’m producing?”

“Are there any unused devices I could recycle?”

“What happens to the personal data I might have on these devices?”

Q7. How can publications, such as Eco Voice, play their part in promoting solutions for e-waste?

Publications like Eco Voice play a vital role in promoting solutions for e-waste by raising awareness of the issue and advocating for better practices among consumers, businesses, and legislators. By showing people the importance of responsible e-waste management and highlighting successful initiatives and innovations, publications can inspire action and be part of driving positive change.

ABOUT ECO VOICE

First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.

ABOUT SIRCEL

Sircel is an Australian-owned and operated green technology company solving the rapidly escalating global e-waste crisis.

With its end-to-end recycling process, Sircel is diverting up to 100% of end-of-life electronics – from consumer items to civic infrastructure – away from landfill and extracting the source materials for reuse in the circular economy.

Processing larger volumes than all known Australian e-waste recyclers and processors, Sircel has invested tens of millions of dollars into facilities and machinery to date. Now operational across five sites in NSW, VIC and QLD, Sircel is working with more than 50 corporates, councils and waste partners to divert their e-waste from landfill.

Sircel has pioneered a unique process that is ethical, sustainable, and better for business, the community and the planet.

 

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Eco Voice
First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.