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The Companies Who Are Helping To Solve Australia’s Waste Problem in 2019

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

The businesses you need to be know about, watch and get-behind right now




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.


1.PLASTIPHALT

A collaboration between Australian companies Downer, Close the Loop, Plastic Police and Red Group. Plastiphalt is a new, greener and stronger, alternative to traditional asphalt roads.

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.


2. TERRACYCLE

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.


3. TOMRA

The leader in reverse vending. TOMRA runs over 82,000 installations worldwide, collecting everything from plastic bottles to glassware and cans, through return and earn vending machines.


The ease of use and incentive to participate encourages repeated use, raising collection rates as the machines have become a natural part of their customer’s routines. They create a cleaner loop – products are reused at the same level, rather than being down-cycled as they would in traditional recycling, which takes far more energy to do.

TOMRA have also taken great strides in the material recovery space. By coupling reverse lending technology with an integrated logistics and processing system, they have substantially reduced costs, increasing the value of materials produced by maintaining the quality of recovered materials. As an example, PET plastics average 10 cents more in value per part when processed with TOMRA.


More recently they 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.


4. FUJITSU

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.


5. THE SEABIN PROJECT

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 the 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.


TAKEAWAYS

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?