The answers to how business can best manage waste are changing, and these new answers are providing cost savings, along with improved social, economic, and environmental outcomes for Hunter businesses.
As a society, we have been transitioning from a linear economy model – we take, we make, we dispose – to a circular economy.
In a circular economy, the output of one process becomes the input of another. This new economy has created opportunities to substitute traditional raw materials with recycled materials that meet specifications and are less expensive. For example, a recycling facility that can beneficially reprocess materials such as waste glass and steel making by-products into aggregate, or drainage materials for use in civil infrastructure projects.
The majority of business waste streams are now able to be recovered and recycled. This includes problematic plastics and building de-fit materials. Garden beds, bollards, outdoor furniture, animal bedding, materials for agricultural and civil applications, particleboard and recovered fuel are all examples of business waste outputs.
Businesses thinking about waste that’s being sent to landfill, and encouraged by economic mechanisms such as the waste levy, are coming up with new ways of managing these “wasted resources”. For example, residual toner powder, recovered from your recycled office printer cartridges, is a key input material for TonerPave – a new asphalt with a high recycled content and reduced carbon footprint.
It’s worth mentioning that a number of local projects have recently been awarded funding through the NSW EPA Waste Less, Recycle More Initiative. They include:
- Somersby-based BioCoal Group – has received support to produce a Solid Recovered Fuel product
- Newcastle City Council (Summerhill) – has received funding to construct a Commercial and Industrial Material Recycling Facility
These projects are resulting in new local solutions for waste generated in the region.
How can your business realise commercial benefits in the changing environment?
- Understand where your waste streams are being generated on site and off site. What are the associated and increasing landfill costs?
- Explore alternative waste disposal options. What are the commercial and environmental benefits of diverting waste from landfill or substituting a raw material with a recovered material in your operations?
- Connect and collaborate with other businesses in Circulate, NSW EPA Industrial Ecology Program. Under Round 1 of the program in NSW, 4,040 tonnes of timber pallets were recycled into alternative markets.
- Take advantage of a free waste bin assessment by participating in Round 2 of the NSW EPA Bin Trim Program. For those SME businesses that participate you may be eligible to apply for a rebate covering up to 50 per cent of the cost of small-scale on-site recycling equipment.
- Join the OEH Sustainability Advantage Program in the Hunter region. You’ll get access to the right support and resources to progress a specific resource efficiency/waste reduction project for your business.
- Keep up to date by becoming part of the Australian Industrial Ecology Network. They provide another forum in which Hunter businesses can keep in touch with development options for waste disposal and best practice.
Director – Cross Connections Consulting, assists businesses and councils to identify and progress viable waste to resource solutions. Samantha connects key stakeholders, communicates, and collaborates to ensure sustainable and commercially viable solutions are identified for waste. Samantha has a voluntary role as Vice-Chair of the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) Hunter Regional Working Group.