Movers and Shapers: This man wants your e-waste

Patrick Moynahan: ‘It’s an interesting time, I can tell you.’

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Patrick Moynahan: ‘It’s an interesting time, I can tell you.’

When Stuff asked around for names of people making strides in their fields – people to watch in 2023 – we were inundated with nominees. Over the next few weeks we’re profiling them and their mahi. They’re entrepreneurs, and philanthropists, writers, directors and top sportspeople. They’re brilliant thinkers and they love their work. Read part one, part two, and part three.

Patrick Moynahan, managing director at Computer Recycling.

Kiwis are world-class wasters, and Patrick Moynahan is out to change that.

On average, each Kiwi produces around 20kg of e-waste per year, among the highest per capita on the planet.

Aotearoa is the only OECD country without a national e-waste scheme, or a ban on e-waste from going to landfill. Best estimates suggest that only 2% of the country’s e-waste is recycled.

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Moynahan started Computer Recycling in 2018, to eliminate e-waste from landfills through recycling and reuse.

Computer Recycling handled about 2.5m kg of e-waste in 2022 – it can essentially recycle anything with a plug.

It’s a passion and a business, Moynahan says. He got into it as he felt he could influence the direction of the industry.

“I really find meaning in the idea of sustainability and a financial cause with commercial outcomes.”

He merged several companies that did some recycling or some resale and refurbishment, then professionalised them, and improved processes and documentation. He gained customers, increased volumes, and brought in new technology, machinery and equipment from overseas to speed up the process.

Bruce Mackay/STUFF

An unused cane coffin, a vintage Celtic harp, 15kg of Pokemon cards. They see it all at Wellington’s tip shop.

The business has grown 560% in the last four or five years. Computer Recycling is now the country’s leading e-waste recycler.

“This year we bought the first primary shredder and optical separator for electronic waste in New Zealand .”

Costing $3.4 million, partially funded by a $1.5m grant from the Ministry for the Environment, BLUBOX uses a pressure shredder to shred and recycle electronic waste that would otherwise be going into landfills.It can shred a tonne of e-waste per hour, “in a way that you’re able to capture contaminants. It’s lowers the risks for anyone handling it, you remove the ferrous metals out of the product and optical separator which uses vectors and cameras to scan material on a hi-tech conveyor, and grades it for sustainable quality.”

A secondary arm of the business, CR Tech, refurbishes computers and laptops for resale on Trade Me. Part of the electronic decommissioning and refurbishment process is secure data destruction.

Moynahan is used to climbing to the top; he has conquered Mount Aconcagua​ in the Andes, at 6959 metres, 22,831 feet, and several other significant summits.

Now, Computer Recycling is eyeing expansion, here and in Australia.

“I really want to make sure that there is reasonable access for all New Zealanders to be able to dispose of these types of materials on this waste ring, and for recoverable material to be recovered in that niche. It’s an interesting time, I can tell you.”

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