“Stooping” is the act of recovering items that have been deposited on the street for others to collect and reuse. The person who has disposed of the “waste” (for want of a better word) rids themselves of the responsibility of discarding the items which create landfill and the person collecting the “waste” reuses the items so that all the energy and material that was used to make the “waste” does not go to waste.
It has been estimated that stooping is worth $US65 billion a year and this is expected to grow to $US500 billion by 2030 based on the premise that it saves people money and reusing is better for the environment than sending stuff to landfill. It seems so easy when talking about household items, but what happens when we extend “stooping” into commercial waste? We then have to try to amend years of government bureaucratic systems that restrict trans-waste processing.
Currently the government has no framework for repurposing discarded resources, as there is a dearth of simple rules on what to do when a waste is no longer the wanted by the maker, but could be used by someone else in a commercial context. In commercial waste streams there are two type of waste. One is resource tailings that are waste from a mine after the mineral being sourced has been extracted. The second type of waste is discarded secondary reagents used to concentrate another resource/material from a processing solution.
It is time we started looking at all resources in virgin ore bodies and waste (neglected waste streams) and start to recover material not only to save money but to reduce further damage to our planet that we are generating with mining for mining’s sake. A recent article in the BBC looked at the devastation of the earth Metal-mining pollution impacts 23 million people worldwide – BBC News.
The estimated worldwide generation of solid wastes from the primary production of mineral and metal commodities is over 100 billion tonnes per year and can range from several times the mass of the valuable element, such as iron and aluminium ores.
The main issue is getting the EPA and other government entities to reevaluate their definitions. Currently most recovery operations are reclassified as mining tenements so that the government can claim a royalty over what is recovered. They treat the waste resource recovery as an in situ mineral resource and apply all the same terminology and set procedures to the business. The EPA has no guidelines on giving the producer of the waste a pathway that relinquishes their responsibility, so they have to go through layers of bureaucratic red tape to give it away. It is the government system of taxing a resource and maintaining the liability of the waste stream which ultimately makes it fruitless for any company even considering giving their waste away to another company to take it to the next stage.
Not all the blame cannot be levelled at the mining/EPA systems in place. Part of the responsibility rests with the mentality of businesses in their pursuit of profit. Managers in some companies are taught to be sharp and make money when and where possible. The perception that if someone else wants their waste it then becomes a resource, for which they want to be paid. The manager in the company thinks “if this company wants to take our waste stream to make a product that is worth lots of money, and if it is of value to them, we should charge them”. Instantly the opportunity is gone. The company that can use the neglected resource is hit with an invoice and probably a handling charge for what is currently considered a waste. The producer of the waste places no value in no longer having to pay for disposal of the waste nor do they look at the benefits to the environment in entrusting another company to reuse the waste stream.
The Good Story
EcoMag Limited recovers Magnesium (a critical mineral resource) from a waste discharge from a solar salt producer in Western Australia. We are also working with two other producers of waste in Western Australia that can be utilised to make Magnesium Oxide at its most pure form. In fact we can make over 20,000 tonnes of critical Magnesium required due to a supply issue with China and Russia being removed from the negotiation table. True wastes to product creating consumer products for human health a more benign waste stream for the solar salt producer better for marine health.