In New South Wales, Australia, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is managing a six-year programme designed to support the recovery of commercial and industrial (C&I) and construction and demolition (C&D) waste by organisations across the state.
As it looks for alternatives to landfilling and exporting wastes, New South Wales (NSW) rolled out its Circulate programme, which offers grants to businesses and organisations developing industrial synergies for C&I and C&D wastes. The state’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that it is aiming to boost ‘industrial ecology’ with projects which redesign industrial processes so they function in similar ways to natural ecosystems. In this way, the waste products of one process become the resources of another process.
Circulate grants are awarded to projects that prolong the life of resources or give materials a second life, keeping them out of landfill by scouting out opportunities for these materials to be reused in industrial or construction processes. $1.2 million is available under the programme until 2021, with individual grants of up to $150,000 available.
Recipients develop synergies with other industries to identify industrial ecology opportunities, increase efficiency and save money by reducing waste sent to landfill. To date, the programme has diverted more than 50,000 tonnes of C&I and C&D waste from landfill.
For example, under the Circulate programme, waste consultancy Cross Connections Consulting received $150,000 to reprocess soft-plastic waste from local businesses into park benches, garden beds and fencing.
“Under the Circulate programme, we’re currently working with businesses to help identify how much plastic they’re currently sending to landfill. From all accounts, it’s a lot. We’ve developed a micro-circular economy model in the region to tackle this very important issue. We’ve making people re-think the impact of soft-plastic packaging, and it’s making people want to take action,” explains Sam Cross, Director at Cross Connections. “Cross Connections has been working with companies such as Newtecpoly to look at ways to reform soft plastics into products.”
Colin Barker, director at Newtecpoly, elaborates: “We’ve got a brand new technology called PolyWaste. We’re able to process mixed, co-mingled and contaminated hard and soft plastics and turn them into products.”
Using the technology, Cross Connections has assisted the community in diverting over 1000 kg of plastics from landfill and turned them into a bench made from recycled plastics for a local school.
“One of the very important things about the Circulate programme is the increase in awareness across businesses that there are ways to recycle soft and hard plastics,” adds Barker.
Meanwhile, the Winya Indigenous Furniture project received a $75,000 Circulate grant to transform broken and tossed-out furniture into new office pieces. Up to 99% of used office furniture is currently sent to landfill in NSW.
Winya Indigenous Furniture collects and disassembles the furniture, recovers the metals for recycling and removes the melamine. Medium-density fibreboard and particleboard are recycled into e-board for use in new office furniture by Indigenous staff.
Closed Loop Environmental Solutions has been the beneficiary of a $115,000 grant for its existing coffee cup recycling programme, Simply Cups. The project looks to increase the quantity of coffee cups collected for reprocessing from office buildings as well as collection places in public spaces such as shopping centres, entertainment precincts, airports, hospitals and other businesses.
PVC from Construction
Vinidex Pty previously secured $150,000 to recover residual polyvinyl chloride from construction and demolition and commercial and industrial waste streams. It will be collected and processed for use in the production of new plastic pipes and fittings – closing the loop on finite resources.
Hard Wood Timber
The practice of reusing timber is becoming more important as hardwood timber supplies are reducing. To boost this practice, Stephen Mitchell Associates was awarded $143,225 for a project that will target the Sydney region’s timber recyclers, wood product manufacturers (including frame and truss fabricators), importers and logistics companies to recycle waste timber offcuts and reuse or recycle redundant timber pallets and crates.
“These grants can help reshape our waste and recycling industry in NSW, which is undergoing significant change,” summarises EPA Executive Director of Waste Operations and Programs Carmen Dwyer. “Already, previous grant recipients have diverted thousands of tonnes of waste from landfill and are continuing to take major strides forward in reshaping the way we deal with waste.”