The challenge

Waste costs can impact business competitiveness

While landfill should be the last option for waste disposal, it's often the first choice for small and medium sized businesses in Australia.

With a whopping estimate of 50 per cent of reusable or recyclable resources going to landfill, it's not only an environmental and social concern, but a growing economic problem for Victorian businesses due to increasing landfill levies and cost of waste management.

Our response

Introducing ASPIRE

ASPIRE (Advisory System for Processing, Innovation & Resource Exchange) is an online marketplace which finds alternative solutions for waste going to landfill.

We're using smart technology to help businesses with their waste management. © Angelo Tsirekas

It works by intelligently match-matching businesses with potential remanufacturers, purchasers or recyclers of their waste resources.

The platform was originally developed as a proof of concept project in response to manufacturing companies talking to their local councils about waste disposal costs - particularly those associated with increasing landfill levies.

ASPIRE's approach featured in a case study for the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) in 2016. With this success, in addition to the wastes diverted from landfill and savings for businesses, the proof-of-concept project is now being converted into a pilot, extending to new areas in Victoria.

This collaborative project focuses on the development and deployment of an ICT system that will assist the efforts of businesses and councils to reduce their operating costs, and improve the economic development outcomes of a region. This project employs closed loop thinking and is part of supporting a circular economy.

ASPIRE

[Image appears of an outline computer with the text “ASPIRE” printed on the screen and then the image zooms out to show arrows forming a circle between buildings and text appears: Kingston City Council Polystyrene Foam Waste, Victoria Carpets Carpet Fibre Waste, Casafico Green Building Innovation]

Female 1: Hi Sam, I just thought I’d check in with Casafico and see how Aspire online is working for you?

[Image changes to show Sam talking to the camera]

[Image changes to show an entrance view looking upwards towards the top of the City of Kingston Municipal Offices building]

Sam: It’s been really good.  It’s been really great for us.  We’ve needed polystyrene

[Image changes to show stacks of polystyrene foam]

and we’ve managed to get it from Kingston Council. 

[Image changes to show a person putting a piece of polystyrene foam into a crusher and then the image changes to show bales of polystyrene stacked]

So, whenever they’ve got an overload of it, we drive on down there and collect it and that gets crushed up and used later. 

[Images move through of polystyrene balls and a piece of polystyrene foam being fed into the crushing machine]

So, we even built our own crushing machine.  For the carpet fibre we get from Victoria Carpets.

[Image changes to show a hand holding carpet fibre]

Rick: This is all the carpet fibre. 

[Camera zooms in on the carpet fibre and then the image changes to show Rick picking up a block off the pile and displaying it to the camera]

It goes into the renders, the coatings, it goes into the fire panel, the blocks.

[Image changes to show a broken up block and then the image changes to show a forklift in the warehouse]

Sam: The reason why we use carpet fibre is so that it creates a bit of a bite. 

[Image changes to show Rick picking up a block and then turning around and displaying grains of carpet fibre in his hand]

So, when you hammer in a nail into say, aerated concrete for example, the nail can just slip straight out. 

[Image changes to show Rick holding a block in his hand and then the image changes to show Sam talking to the camera while Rick listens]

Well, Rick’s dad’s been our, like chemist as such for a render manufacture that he started

[Image changes to show Rick running his hand along a rendered wall and then the image changes to show Sam talking to the camera and then the image changes to show recycled materials]

many years ago and he’s got a real understanding of the properties of each recycle material there is. 

[Image changes to show Sam talking to the camera]

So, for example polystyrene, it’s very insulating, so we use polystyrene in our products to give it a higher insulating property.  The carpet fibres for that bite.

[Image changes to show a moulding and then the image changes to show Rick picking up the granules and running them through his hand]

Rick: Alright, this moulding is made up from polystyrene, cement and carpet fibre. 

[Image changes to show a small piece of the moulding in Rick’s hand and then the image changes to show a large square cement like block]

If they were to use sand and cement to make these this would weigh about 400 kilos.  Right now it’s only weighing under about 60.

[Image changes to show Sam talking to the camera]

Sam:  The other thing I found great for ASPIRE is the fact that we’ve got a lot of waste pallets. 

[Image changes to show stacks of pallets in the warehouse and then the image changes to show Sam talking to the camera]

So, I’m going to get that on to ASPIRE and hopefully someone is going to key up with us and take away our pallets.  I heard there is someone already out there.

 

[Music plays and image appears of an outline computer with the text “ASPIRE” printed on the screen and then the image zooms out to show arrows forming a circle between buildings and text appears: E-Waste Electronics and Computers, A Tech Recyclers]

[Image changes to show two recycling bins and then the image changes to show shelves of I.T. equipment]

Male 2: What I do is I recycle electronics and computers, mostly I.T. and audio equipment. 

[Image changes to show a power plug and then the camera zooms out to show Male 2 standing in front of shelves stacked with I.T. equipment and components and talking]

I get most of my business through schools.  I realised a lot of schools were throwing their equipment out, straight into the bin,

[Image changes to show a laptop being opened up and then lifted and the back inspected]

you know be the local e-waste person because there’s a massive gap I think. 

[Image changes to show the laptop open and then the image changes to show Male 2 picking up and looking at a piece of audio equipment and talking]

Well I was going to say like when I think of what business would recycle electronics it’s hard to exactly pick the fields. 

[Image changes to show power cords stacked in a black plastic tub and then the image changes to show Male 2 talking to the camera]

So, something like this website will be able to refine down you know and businesses can list that kind of stuff and it makes it a lot easier when you don’t know where to go. 

[Image changes to show the black tub full of power cords and then the image rotates slightly and then the image changes to show audio equipment stacked on shelves]

Yeah.  It’s not… like people don’t know where to take their electronics I feel and they’re just literally dumping them.  So, I’ve mainly targeted lately computers, laptops and all I.T. equipment as well as audio,

[Image changes to show motherboards in a tub]

things like V.C.R., D.V.D. recorders, test every single unit. 

[Image changes to show video equipment stacked on shelves]

I match them with remotes and things so I make sure they’re working.  Anything that’s not working,

[Image changes to show remotes stacked on a shelf and then the image changes to show remotes in a blue plastic tub]

I’ve got a technician that works from home that I… you know if it’s worth repairing we repair it.  If not, we break it down

[Image changes to show computer hard drives stacked on shelves]

and yeah rather than just go in landfill.

[Image changes to show more equipment stacked on shelves]

Female 1:  And so once you’d registered on ASPIRE what did you describe as your input?

[Image changes to show mobile phones in a black plastic tub]

Male 2: E-Waste, electronics e-waste and basically that’s the resources that I take in.

[Music plays and image appears of an outline computer with the text “ASPIRE” printed on the screen and then the image zooms out to show arrows forming a circle between buildings and text appears: Enigma Clean Plastic Waste, Olympics Polymers Plastic Recycling]

[Image changes to show the outside of a factory outlet and then the image changes to show a female stacking full plastic drums on a trolley and wheeling the trolley along]

Male 3: Well areas where, as you all know, the areas that are pressing with us, out of shape or out of specs pallets which we can’t reuse,

[Image changes to show a stack of blue metal drums]

drums. 

Female 1: Metal drums or…?

[Image changes to show a male stacking empty plastic drums]

Male 3: We get metal, plastic. 

[Camera zooms in on the stack of plastic drums]

I get a lot of raw materials and particularly also the plastics, as in the plastic wrapping. 

[Image changes to show a shelf of filled plastic containers]

That had been a problem until we sort of… through ASPIRE we…

Female 1: So, before that what happened to your plastic film?

[Image changes to show shelves stacked with plastic wrapped products]

Male 3: Prior to that it was like everybody else.  We’ve attempted to get it recycled. 

[Image changes to show a stack of plastic drums]

The cost was so inhibitive.

[Image changes to show plastic wrapping in black plastic bags and a recycle bin and then the camera zooms in on the recycle bin]

The best of the bags we’ve got just throw it in the bin, general waste. 

[Camera zooms in on the plastic wrapping in the recycle bin]

We basically collect it until we’ve got, say for example, a couple of large rubbish bins,

[Camera zooms in on the plastic wrapping in the black bin bags and then the image changes to show the outside of the premises and then the image changes to show a sign on the side of the building “Olympic Polymers”]

put them on our van, our delivery van and as we’re doing… as the driver’s doing calls we’ll drop them off.

[Image changes to show Sam talking to the camera]

Sam: Our ASPIRE has been great and I would encourage anyone to jump on to ASPIRE

[Image changes to show a male working on a concrete type moulding]

so that they can connect with other companies just as we have. 

[Image changes to show Rick and Sam and then the image changes to show Sam talking to the camera]

The fact that as we grow, our waste, or our resources is soon going to come to an end because currently we’ve just got customers dropping it in or local people that we collect it from.  So, as we grow we’re going to have to need and build more relationships with other people and that’s what ASPIRE does for us. 

[ASPIRE recycle symbol appears in the centre of the screen and City of Kingston, Greater Dandenong, Data 61 CSIRO, Knox City Council, Hume City Council and Victoria State Government logos appear around the symbol and text appears: Metropolitan Local Government Waste & Resource Recovery Fund]

It’s a portal to just hook up with other companies and get a good stream of waste.

The results

Changing the way we deal with waste

ASPIRE uses smart technology helps businesses deal with their waste.

By encouraging the diversion of waste to landfill, ASPIRE is reducing waste and input resource costs, and reducing pressure on local landfill sites.

It's also encouraging sustainable business operations for SMEs and partners involved in the project, providing educational opportunities like resource identification for re-manufacturing or re-use, and and increased awareness of SME waste/by-product services.

As an Australian-first tool, ASPIRE also delivers increased business opportunities for networking and collaboration opportunities.

Our project partners for the proof of concept project are:

  • Kingston City Council
  • Hume City Council
  • Dandenong City Council
  • Knox City Council
  • Barwon South West Waste & Resource Recovery Group, on behalf of their 9 constituent councils

We would also like to acknowledge the State Government of Victoria (Digital Futures Fund) and the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group for their investment.

Companies located within these regions are able to gain access the ASPIRE website.

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