Backing a solution to address the issues of e-waste

The value of the global e-waste market is forecast to reach more than $112 billion by 2030. Millions of discarded televisions, computers and mobile phones combine to make e-waste the fastest growing component of solid waste around the world. And with an astonishing average of 20 kgs of e-waste per person per year, (compared to a global average of 7 kg), Australia is one of the greatest contributors to the problem. 

So it’s no wonder that increasingly environmentally conscious Australians are pressuring policy makers and the related industries to find more sustainable ways of sourcing raw materials for manufacturing.

To support the need for innovation in this space, the Australian Business Growth Fund (ABGF) has invested $7.5 million in Scipher Technologies, an organisation that provides a commercially viable and environmentally sound solution to this burgeoning waste stream.

ABGF’s investment will help accelerate Scipher’s vision to become Australia’s leading urban miner, providing ground-breaking e-waste processing technology.

The uptapped potential of urban mining

After spending many years in Europe, working with one of the continent’s largest e-waste recyclers and compliance schemes, Chris Sayers, founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Scipher, experienced first-hand the impact of advanced and innovative processing technologies.

Formulating a business plan to introduce these solutions into the Australian market, he launched Scipher in 2019. Since then, the business has gained substantial market share, securing clients and customers across Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

“The untapped potential of urban mining is enormous,” says Chris. “For example, one tonne of mobile phones contains approximately 100 times more gold than a tonne of primary extracted gold ore. These products contain valuable recoverable raw materials that otherwise represent a lost commercial opportunity.”

As obsolescence rates of TVs, PCs, mobile phones and other electronic goods increase, the risk of incorrect disposal of these end-of-life products is also set to soar. “This results in potential environmental contamination of landfill sites,” says Chris. “E-waste represents one of the planet’s greatest environmental challenges, and also a significant commercial opportunity.”

Using advanced, ecologically sound and commercially proven technology, Scipher recovers raw materials and resources contained in end-of-life electronic and electrical equipment to a high degree of purity. These materials are then reintroduced from e-waste back into the economy for manufacturing. This is known as the ‘circular economy’ — a model that involves reusing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible, maximising environmental, social and economic outcomes.

The ABGF and Scipher partnership

With a background in corporate finance, Chris recognised the value of an external investor.

“ABGF will expand Scipher’s networks and connections, while we remain in control of the business,” he says. “We can continue to be nimble in our decision-making, and stay focused on further innovations and providing exceptional services to our clients. With this support, we can realise the company’s vision to become the largest licensed e-waste recycler and urban miner in Australia.”

With ABGF’s investment, Scipher will expand its Australian operating footprint and further invest in innovative and advanced technologies to optimise its raw material and commodity recovery capabilities. This includes the addition of Western Australia based, Total Green Recycling to the Scipher group – one of Australia’s leading e-waste and asset recovery businesses and bringing over 30 years of combined industry experience. Scipher also plans to establish new recycling plants in Sydney and regional NSW.

ABGF’s Co-Head of Investments, Patrick Verlaine, is excited about this investment.

“Regulators, businesses and consumers are increasingly focused on the treatment of e-waste,” he says. “Through this investment, we are supporting a growing business that is focused on investing in leading technology to maximise recovery rates of valuable products that would otherwise be diverted to landfill as environmentally harmful waste. We are delighted to be investing in and working alongside such an experienced and industry-leading management team.”

Can ABGF assist your business?

At the Australian Business Growth Fund™, we provide long-term growth capital to enable SMEs to scale without giving up control of their business. Start the conversation with us today.