Australia has a very well documented waste problem. Last year, we produced 67 million tonnes of the stuff. To put it into perspective of how we’re tracking against the rest of the world, the global average waste generated per capita per day is 0.74kg. Australia’s average… 1.75kg!
In our last blog, ‘Five small ways that we can solve Australia’s big waste problem’ Compass Co-founder, Nat Dean-Weymark, looked at five little steps that we can all take to improve the situation.
Today we are going a step further, highlighting 5 businesses that have the potential to make a big dent in Australia’s growing pile of waste – proving that change begins with small acts of individuals, but really follows through when tackled at an industrial level.
Here are the names to know, watch and get-behind right now.
Made out of a combination of waste products including plastic bags and glass bottles combined with bitumen, Plastiphalt is the innovation that could literally solve Australia’s stock-pile problem. One 300m stretch of Plastiphalt road contains approximately 200,000 plastic bags, 63,000 glass bottles and toner from 4500 used printer cartridges. With 353,331KM of paved road running across Australia, imagine the dent that could be made in the estimated 4bn plastic bags that go to landfill each year alone.
What’s more, Plastiphalt roads offer a 65% improvement in fatigue life, meaning they last longer and can better handle heavy use making it perfect for industrial use. And it’s no surprise that the trailblazers over the ditch in NZ are already getting onboard this innovation, with Christchurch Airport using Plastiphalt in their updated fire station tarmac.
These guys specialise in taking on the recycling that others deem un-recyclable – and if you have waste to manage, they’ll take it on. A partnership based, solution orientated organisation, with touch points at every level of the community.
TerraCycle are innovators that have already produced a number of closed loop solutions, such as the world’s first pen produced from… recycled pens – tidy! And on a bigger level, they convinced a group of massive corporations, including Unilever and Procter & Gamble, to pilot a new reusable loop programme that could change habits, and the look of pantries worldwide!
Another example is their recent partnership with global toy brand Zuru, who from September 1st, will ensure that their Bunch O Balloons product is fully recyclable worldwide. Consumers will be directed to ship to or drop off their items at TerraCycle recycling stations for reprocessing into new materials.
This is a stellar example of how businesses need to understand that there is no one size fits all solution to our waste management issues, and work with people from local to industrial levels, to create solutions that are tailored to specific waste needs – which in turn greatly increases their success rate.
The leader in reverse vending. TOMRA Collection Solutions runs over 82,000 installations worldwide, collecting drink containers through state-of-the-art-technology. They accept, recognise and collect drink containers including plastic bottles, glass bottles, aluminium, steel cans and cartons.
TOMRA’S Reverse Vending Machines are currently active in NSW, QLD & NT. The ease of use and monetary incentives to participate encourages repeated use, raising collection rates as the machines have become a natural part of their customer’s weekly routines. They create a cleaner loop – the machines result in a low contamination, high-value rates, giving the containers the best chance to be recycled back into new containers.
In NSW alone, there have been over 2 billion containers collected through over 600 TOMRA Return & Earn collection points, which process more than 33 million drink containers each week. This equates to an average of 140 containers returned per resident. Nearly 60% of eligible drink containers are now being recycled, compared to 32% that were being collected via kerbside bins before the roll-out of Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) recycling.
More recently TOMRA Sorting Solutions have produced a thought leadership text, ‘The Plastics Value Chain’, re-thinking the way we use plastics and how we can make the material work within a circular economy on a global level.
eWaste is Australia’s fastest growing waste problem. The lifespan of our electronics is shrinking, meaning more unused tech lying around gathering dust. In fact, the average Australian generating 20kg of eWaste per year.
These products, typically contain toxins such as lead, mercury and calcium that represent 70% of all toxins in landfill. But mind-blowingly so, 95% of this waste is still recoverable and reusable.
Tech companies have long recycled their own eWaste, however for the wider public these opportunities remain scarce. In fact, many are beginning to fear that the rising pile of used electronics, could soon become the next plastic disaster!
Fujitsu have come up with a clever solution to this problem, creating a self managing, smart eWaste bin, providing a safe deposit site for your community’s unwanted electronics. The bins represent the first step in recovering the valuable materials in defunct devices, that would otherwise toxify landfill sites.
Unlike traditional ‘take back’ schemes, where tech companies will accept own-brand eWaste for recycling, Fujitsu’s solution is open to all devices. Addressing the fundamentals of the eWaste problem, driving behaviour changes in how people view and dispose of their eWaste.
In 2018 3 tonnes of eWaste was saved from ending up in landfill through Fujitsu’s initiative, leading to a finalist spot at the 2018 Australian IOT Awards. When rolled out further, Fujitsu’s bins could provide the first step towards dealing with eWaste on a large scale.
The company whose mission statement is to put themselves out of business… well, it’s actually “To live in a world without the need for Seabins” But you get the point!
The first prototype hit the water in 2016, after a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign that brought co-founder’s, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski’s dream to life. Since then 719 bins have been installed worldwide, collecting 200kg of ocean waste a day!
An elegant and sustainable solution for trash filled marinas, the Seabin has won a number of sustainability and innovation awards, and they continue to innovate. Their latest iteration, the Seabin V5, has the potential to collect up to one tonne of debris per bin per year.
As part of our North Initiative, Compass introduced Seabin to the Australian market and continues this relationship both at home and in the USA. If you would like to hear more about the project, check out our Explore More interview with co-founder Pete Ceglinski here.
So there you have it. Five companies that are throwing their weight at Australia’s waste problem. Taking account of the difference they have made already, just imagine what could be done if five hundred companies followed suit!
The State government has just announced a $1.5m initiative designed to drive waste innovation in NSW – The Circular Economy Innovation Network. There has never been a better or more critical time to step forward and be counted in the waste space.
What’s stopping your business from playing their part?