E-waste recycling business Scipher receives $15 million to fund ‘urban mining’ activities

E-waste recycling business Scipher receives $15 million to fund ‘urban mining’ activities

Photo via Scipher.

Melbourne-based e-waste recycling company Scipher has received a $7.5 million investment from the Australian Business Growth Fund (ABGF), as it looks to expand its “urban mining” capabilities and capture more of a market estimated to be worth $112 billion by 2030.

This was matched by another $7.5 million investment from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), with the funds to enable Scipher to invest in innovative and advanced technologies to improve its raw material and commodity recovery capability, and add Western Australia-based Total Green Recycling to the group.

Scipher also plans on expanding its operations beyond Melbourne and into Sydney and regional locations across Australia post-investment.

Founded in 2019 by CEO Chris Sayers, who has a background in corporate finance, Scipher’s operations involve the company recycling e-waste and recovering the valuable metals and materials contained within the technology products. The company also has an IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) services arm, which allows it to recover tech assets and destroy associated data.

According to Scipher, there is “enormous untapped potential” in what it describes as “urban mining”, citing research from the Australia New Zealand Recycling Platform which found that one tonne of mobile phones contains approximately 100 times more gold than a tonne of primary extracted gold ore.

Another report from the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment found that Australians produce 23.4kg of e-waste per person per year, demonstrating the extent of the problem that Scipher hopes to address.

“ABGF will expand Scipher’s networks while we remain in control of the business, continue to be nimble in our decision making, and stay focused on further innovations and providing exceptional services to our clients,” Sayers said.

“With this support, we can realise the company’s vision to become the largest licensed e-waste recycler and urban miner in Australia.”

Established in partnership between the Federal Government and six Australian banks, ABGF views its investment as a way to give Scipher a leg up in a fragmented industry with strong environmental and regulatory tailwinds that is well placed to benefit from capital investment.

“Regulators, businesses, and consumers are increasingly focused on the treatment of e-waste,” ABGF co-head of investments Patrick Verlaine said.

“Through this investment, we are supporting a growing business that’s investing in leading technology to maximise recovery rates of valuable and what would otherwise be environmentally harmful waste, diverted to landfill.

“We are delighted to be investing alongside such an experienced and industry-leading management team.”

For CEFC, the investment marks the corporation’s first in e-waste, with the capital coming from its Australian Recycling Investment Fund.

“Technology is making profound changes to our lives, and mostly for the better, from entertainment and communication options to household appliances and solar panels. At the same time as we embrace these new technologies, and inevitably discard older ones, we need to turn our attention to the end-of-life treatment of our many devices,” CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said.

“Making more efficient use of finite resources is an important part of the transition to net zero emissions by 2050, with the added benefit of backing the growth of new industries and jobs. In our first e-waste investment, we are pleased to support Scipher in its ambitious plans to modernise the Australian e-waste recycling sector, improve recycling rates and lower emissions.”

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