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Fit for Purpose Tools in Resource Recovery

Fit for Purpose Tools in Resource Recovery

Equilibrium’s managing director, Nick Harford is presenting this week at the 2018 WasteSA Resource Recovery Conference in Adelaide. It’s an excellent event typically attended by key players who know the industry and what is required to move it forward.

The current climate confronting the waste and resource recovery industry generates considerable  discussion and speculation about preferred solutions, desired outcomes, essential infrastructure and/or policy reforms.

Product stewardship – either voluntary or regulated – is often hooked into the dialogue, as a key tool for more efficient resource use, including the recovery and recycling of products and materials. And in many cases (but not all) this is an accurate assessment.

Nick’s conference presentation will highlight that product stewardship is one tool among many when it comes to waste avoidance and resource recovery. The environment and sustainability toolbox contains many approaches that need to be mixed and matched depending on the specific problem or opportunity being addressed.

Whether we are focussed on material substitution,  eliminating restricted substances, extended product life or design for disassembly and remanufacturing, the need to carefully choose a solution or hybrid of tools, should be informed and with clear justification.

In short, it is about understanding the issue, the desired outcome and the relevance of available approaches or tools. Fit for purpose thinking is essential when it comes to maximising efficiency and effectiveness with a view to delivering measurable benefit.

Contact Nick directly to request a copy of his conference presentation:

Nick Harford
Email:  nick@equil.com.au
Mobile:  0419 993 234

NSW Government moves on Circular Policy

The goal of a circular economy is being discussed across sectors, industries and communities. Much of it with substance and strong intent, but some of it superficial and simplistic.

Most importantly, there is a recognition that new patterns of production and consumption are essential. This is especially relevant if we as an economy and community are to maximise resource productivity, minimise impacts and develop a new, more benign relationship with products and the materials they are made from.

The need for effective policy reform is timely, as is the need for economy-wide attention. Rebranding  waste and recycling initiatives as circular economy initiatives certainly fails to recognise the imperative.

As a contribution towards delivering positive economic, social and environmental outcomes for the community that are ‘circular’ the NSW Government is developing relevant policies. Specifically, it has released a draft Circular Economy Policy as well as a Circular Economy Discussion Paper.

The two documents provide a useful overview of the essential principles, including examples of how these can be applied to achieve the desired outcomes. Both the policy and the discussion paper are sensible starting points for informing and engaging interested stakeholders.

Unlike European Union initiatives which identify actions holistically across industries and sectors, the NSW documents are chiefly framed through a waste management lens, which may be more doable over the short-term however at some point will need to address the structural transformation needed to achieve a truly circular economy.

The discussion paper sets an inclusive tone and asks ‘what would a circular economy look like’ and invites ideas on how interested parties could get involved and what support they may require.

Consultation on the draft Circular Economy Policy is open from 22 October to 25 November 2018.

Submissions will inform the process and be used to finalise the policy. This will be followed by an implementation plan that sets out how the NSW Government will ‘work with business and local communities.

You can download the relevant documents and have your say via the following website:

https://engage.environment.nsw.gov.au/circular

Equilibrium is working with some of its clients and partners to prepare submissions over the coming weeks. We would welcome contact from any company, council or organisation wishing to discuss the process and their response to the discussion paper.

More information

Nick Harford
Managing Director – Equilibrium
Email:  nick@equil.com.au
Mobile: 0419 993 234

Product Stewardship at Equilibrium

Understanding the impacts and issues of a product or material across its life-cycle is often the first step towards creating smart stewardship solutions.

The production of manufactured goods brings diverse benefit and utility across all aspects of life. It serves our everyday habits, routines and lifestyles, often with great efficiency.

These products fuel economic activity, national prosperity and meet functional requirements, however they also consume materials, energy, water and a variety of other resources – some rare, some scarce and some potentially hazardous.

On the upside, the ability to create low impact, low-waste and restorative products and services in a circular economy is however straightforward, desirable and consistent with how responsible companies operate.

Enter Equilibrium advice, strategy and technical services

We specialise in all aspects of stewardship for products, materials and services. Equilibrium is much more than consulting and advice, as it covers the full range of activities necessary to design, develop, administer, implement and evaluate successful product solutions, schemes and programs.

Importantly, Equilibrium provides end-to-end stewardship services, from tailored programs, auditing methods and engagement strategies.

How we help our customers and partners

Whether it is a regulated scheme, a voluntary industry program, or an individual business service to customers, we have the capabilities and software to assist manufacturers, importers, retailers, associations and not-for-profits to develop and execute high performance stewardship outcomes.

Our services also have relevance to federal, state, territory and local governments, especially at the intersection of stakeholder engagement, consumer education and methodologies to address downstream supply chain assurance.

We implement a life-cycle or systems approach to stewardship and associated problem-solving in the resource recovery sector, specialising in materials and operational efficiency by drawing on extensive industry, environment and government experience.

Some of our customers and partners

Equilibrium provides a wide spectrum of stewardship-based services for industry and government connecting the environment, economy, policy and community in a shared responsibility model.

Our personnel have extensive experience in product stewardship – from hands-on industry roles establishing take-back programs to strategic level research and advice. Some of the stewardship projects and programs Equilibrium staff have worked on include:

> Paintback
> Child car safety seat take-back pilot
> National Television and Computer Recycling
> Mattress stewardship scheme development
> Tyre Stewardship Australia
> Australian Packaging Covenant
> FluoroCycle
> Oil container product stewardship scheme
> Australian Tyre Recyclers Association

Equilibrium’s focus is on working collaboratively with stakeholders and equipping them to implement stewardship solutions under their own Corporate Social Responsibility programs and directives.

Review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011

The current review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, including the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, is an important opportunity for manufactures, retailers, councils, social enterprises and industry associations, to help shape the next phase of stewardship activity in Australia.

The Equilibrium team has been deeply involved in many aspects of the Act’s creation, review and ongoing implementation. That means we can help interested organisations unlock the value and benefit of what the Act can offer organisations.

In short, we can assist with the preparation of submissions, run member workshops and advise on the relevance and implications of the Act, including the potential benefits with  securing voluntary accreditation.

We welcome and encourage you to make contact with us and talk about the review process and what it means for your company, enterprise, council or association.

Remember that the deadline for submissions under the review of the Product Stewardship Act is 29 June 2018.
More information

Contact Nicholas, Damien or John for more information about our services and solutions:

Nicholas Harford
Mobile: 0419 993 234 or nick@equil.com.au

Damien Wigley
Mobile: 0404 899 961 or damien@equil.com.au

John Gertsakis
Mobile: 0409 422 089 or john@equil.com.au

 

 

Kerbside recycling market assessment tool

Kerbside recycling market assessment methodology

The importance of recycling to the Australian community, industry and local councils has been further reinforced by recent developments in China.

The act of sorting, separating and recycling our household recyclable materials is something that the public and councils consider an essential service. It is good for the environment, meets community expectations and generates positive economic activity.

A practical tool for local councils and kerbside operators

Equilibrium has been working with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to develop a tool* to assist local councils and kerbside service operators to assess changes to contracts in the current environment.

The methodology underpinning the tool is not intended to be prescriptive, but more so a guide that councils and others can use as it suits their particular circumstances and requirements. The tool includes instructions, examples and indicative responses to make it as easy to use and as stand-alone as possible, and to enable individual organisations to adapt it to their situation.

The MWRRG is now using this approach with Victorian Councils, and it has been widely circulated to all States, major recyclers and industry groups.

About the tool

The methodology assists parties involved with kerbside recycling service arrangements to make informed decisions on on-going arrangements. It is based on accountability, transparency and reasonableness when negotiating and agreeing to kerbside recycling service arrangements.  This approach sets out:

1. Principles of kerbside recycling services.
2. Considerations for assessing kerbside recycling service arrangements.
3. Commodity price indices, factors and calculations to inform financial considerations.
4. Monitoring and verification of agreements

The tool is straightforward to use and organisations can use it to check and test their own particular situation.

To request a copy email info@equil.com.au or call + 61 3 9372 5356

*The tool has been developed by Equilibrium OMG Pty Ltd for the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG). The tool remains the property of Equilibrium OMG Pty Ltd and the MWRRG. Equilibrium OMG Pty Ltd and the MWRRG cannot accept responsibility for any use or reliance on the content of this method and associated tool by any third party

 

Blockchain and Environmental Applications

Digital disruption applied to environmental objectives holds great potential to build transparency across the supply chain

The need to confirm, verify and certify processes and outcomes is a major element in responsible and measurable environmental management, be it to establish accurate disposal paths, quantify recovered materials or document a robust chain of data and activity.

From forestry and fisheries through to energy, carbon reduction and abatement programs and the recycling and recovery of waste, the need for unassailable digital tools is an essential part of responsible environmental management and business sustainability in the broadest sense.

How often do we hear about the need for effective ‘chain of custody’ for materials or a particular product, or for certified recycling outcomes?

Digital solutions that are free of any single vested interest, and have the architecture to enable transparency and widespread adoption, will allow organisations, and their sustainability practitioners to reach new levels of knowledge transfer, environmental performance, supplier accountability and customer confidence.

Blockchain 101

There are plenty of definitions with a recurring theme but it’s all about decentralization through a platform ‘owned by no one and useable by everyone’.  In very simple terms it’s a ‘shared record book’.

Some succinct explanations further describe its essential characteristics:

“Blockchain is a decentralized digitized database that maintains a list of records of a complete history of transactions or movements of a product.”

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” Read more: Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)

Because the “chain” can’t be modified it can immediately provide proof of purchase for any transaction, whether that be procurement of sustainable materials to purchasing renewable energy.

Fundamental to the structure of blockchains is the ability to maintain encrypted copies of any information stored on every server or “node” in the network.

Blockchain systems record all transactions, enabling a transparent trail that can be easily audited, even automatically which can be used to validate transactions preventing double counting and the authenticity of chain of custodies around products and materials.

Relevance to sustainability and environmental objectives

So could the blockchain be part of the transparency revolution that business sustainability demands?

Heather Clancy, the editorial director of GreenBiz talks about the blockchain’s emerging role in sustainability in a manner that is both plausible and compelling. The scenarios she describes are clear candidates highlighting how a ‘shared record book’ can bring noteworthy environmental benefit and customer confidence through the ultimate in transparent platforms.

“Picture, if you will, a tracking system that discreetly verifies the provenance of products as they move across a supply chain — sending proactive alerts about unexpected detours that could signal potential tampering or environmental conditions that might pose safety issues. Or, imagine a database that monitors the clean electricity generated by on-site solar panels, issues renewable energy certificates as certain production thresholds are achieved, then distributes them according to predetermined contracts. Automatically.”

Clancy however is a realist and acknowledging the hype but certainly not dismissing the blockchain and its future applications. While lavish claims and embellishment are the norm for early innovations and over-excited entrepreneurs, there is a logic and clarity around why and how the blockchain can address data and verification gaps not always possible or reliable via conventional methods and systems.

“While the hype level seen during 2016 isn’t likely to last — it sometimes seems every other tech headline is rife with blockchain promises — the next few years will usher a wave of experiments. Where sustainability professionals are likely to see the most action: among utilities or renewable energy developers seeking a more efficient way of pricing and selling clean power; at consumer products companies and retailers seeking a better way of validating supply-chain claims; and among banks and insurance companies interested in verifying the provenance of minerals, commodities or raw materials.”

In support of her insights, Clancy shares some specific examples of companies to watch and how they are utilising the blockchain to address a diverse range of energy, environment and supply chain imperatives from conflict minerals and product life-cycle management all the way through to renewable energy trading:

IBM — sells a private cloud service that could help organizations develop and get blockchain applications up and running quickly. Its technology is behind pilots by retailer Walmart, for food safety, and Everledger, which certifies the origins of diamonds.

LO3 Energy — its TransactiveGrid system helps automate the trading of power across microgrids. The startup just scored a notable strategic partner, German energy management company Siemens. (A similar company is Australia’s PowerLedger.)

Nasdaq — has been investing in blockchain technology for more than three years. Its Linq service could be the foundation for new business models, such as a system for issuing renewable energy credits automatically.

Provenance — a relatively low-key London firm has piloted the use of blockchain to track tuna supply chains in Indonesia and to monitor produce for British grocer Co-op Food. It wants to make it simpler for companies to verify sustainability claims.

Skuchain — the California startup’s software is behind a test by Commonwealth Bank and Wells Fargo initially focused on trading cotton between Texas and China.

Heather Clancy’s article complete with more detail can be viewed at GreenBiz. It is a reader-friendly excerpt from a more comprehensive report published in partnership with Trucost in 2017. Read more: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/blockchains-emerging-role-sustainability

Indeed we have local examples. Power Ledger based in Perth has launched a successful ICO (Initial Coin Offering). The company uses a blockchain platform that allows neighbours to trade surplus energy from rooftop solar panels and batteries at prices that exceed feed-in-tariffs, as well as sharing solar panels and batteries on multi-dwelling apartment blocks and community facilities. Read more here: http://www.afr.com/news/power-ledger-builds-energy-business-amid-bitcoin-mayhem-20171215-h05c5v#ixzz55AxqIDbH

The World Economic Forum has also been proactively discussing the relevance of the blockchain and its role in helping deal with climate change and resource conservation.

In relation to climate change the WEF speculates on what’s possible, desirable and necessary staying that the blockchain features benefits for both producer and consumer, as well as other players throughout the supply chain:

“Imagine a world in which carbon emissions and credits can be tracked transparently and reliably. Retailers will be able to sell a product and take into account the carbon impact it creates at the same time. Governments will be able to measure, track and trade emissions transparently. And crucially, for the first time consumers will be able to understand the environmental impact of the products they are buying – both positive and negative – at the point of sale, and will be able to mitigate this in an instant, with millions of micro-transactions scaling up to make a huge collective impact.”  Read more: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/09/carbon-currency-blockchain-poseidon-ecosphere/

New uses and applications emerge weekly which also highlights that the platform has captured the imagination of innovators and entrepreneurs, as well as the major financial institutions who have much to gain and lose should they not understand its potential.

The here and now of the blockchain is mostly being used in cryptocurrency because of its two main advantages i.e. the highly secure nature of the platform, and its transparency. These attributes have been quickly identified by users as the ‘shared record book’ reaches into new markets and solutions, including:

> Plastic Bank: uses blockchain technology to pay for the collection of plastic in poverty-stricken areas reducing the overall waste.

> Poseidon+: carbon credit market that will allow consumers to purchase climate positive products and having the confidence to trust it because of blockchain tracking.

> Catenaut: is blockchain made for a timber supply chain, knowing where the timber comes from and the amount coming in accurately.

Ultimately the blockchain delivers a degree of transparency that in fact spawns new uses, or improved uses compared to conventional, less-secure methods and systems.

A blockchain future will be able to:

> track energy in a decentralized system
> track products from cradle to grave/ tracking products that may be reused/recycled
> track food sources i.e. consumers knowing where it comes from. Seeing food miles and other information
> continually track products across and throughout the supply chain
> accurately audit supply chains as it provides a clear paper trail of products that cannot be tampered

Its success and widespread application will in part depend on compelling, evidence-based case-studies that stimulate thinking across sectors and industries, including energy, water, waste, mining, agriculture and fisheries.

If the blockchain can achieve a step-change improvement in relation to accurate data sharing, verification, monitoring and tracking, then we are likely to see greater uptake over the coming months and years. And if its application can directly and indirectly contribute to achieving a more resource efficient and productive sustainable future then its value-adding capacity is noteworthy.

It could also be the platform that helps to underpin the circular economy and its focus on extending the life of products, components and materials to unprecedented levels.

Transparency combined with closed loops is a powerful partnership in pursuit of regenerative and restorative solutions.

Authored by: John Gertsakis and Tom Pollock from Equilibrium
31 January 2018

 

Maxi Cosi supports the child car safety seat recycling program

Equilibrium are proud to be associated with Maxi Cosi as part of the the Child Car Safety Seat Recycling Program.

National Car Seat Recycling Program

Maxi-Cosi, as part of Dorel Australia was the first to participate in the National Car Seat Recycling Program in Australia. If you would like to recycle your used car seat, please drop them to one of the recycling centers by 30 September 2017 – http://bit.ly/2w5LV8b

Posted by Maxi-Cosi on Wednesday, 6 September 2017

 

If you would like to recycle your used car seat, please drop them to one of the recycling centers located in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland by 30 September 2017

http://bit.ly/2w5LV8b

NRMA – Child restraint recycling trial a triple-whammy win for community

Road safety, environmental benefits and regional jobs: a program that can deliver on any of these targets could expect the support of NRMA, so a scheme that has ready-made outcomes for all three gets our full attention – and it deserves yours too.

Add to that the fact that children and the disabled are the primary beneficiaries and it’s clear that the child car safety seat stewardship trial has the potential to deliver enormous positives for the community.

In order to ensure a permanent recycling program, Equilibrium must demonstrate significant community engagement and support. People with used and expired child restraints are urged to drop them at the following locations to support this valuable trial:

Kiama Community Recycling Centre: 446 Riverside Dr, Minnamurra.

Penrith Community Recycling Centre:Gate 3, 96 Dunheved Circuit, St Marys.

Tamworth Community Recycling Centre: 123a Forest Road, Tamworth.

Nudgee Resource Recovery Centre, 1402 Nudgee Rd, Nudgee Beach, Queensland

Willawong Resource Recovery Centre, 360 Sherbrooke Rd, Willawong, Queensland.

Reedy Creek Community Waste and Recycling Centre, 61 Hutchinson Street, Burleigh Heads, Queensland.

Darebin Resource Recovery Centre, 30 Kurnai Avenue, Reservoir Victoria

Product Stewardship and the benefits of establishing a robust downstream management and verification program

Australia’s Hazardous Waste Act regulates the export and import of hazardous waste into and out of Australia by way of the Basel Convention, Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development Decision and the Waigani Convention. As a party to these conventions and agreements, Australia has an obligation to ensure that the stewardship legislation that applies to our waste and exporting activities does not impact on international destinations. As such, Australia’s responsibilities and obligations to the export of end products as a direct result of product stewardship activities lies with the manufacturer/producer and should not be contracted out to buyers, sellers, brokers or agents without appropriate due diligence.

Australia’s product stewardship arrangements are not alone or protected from ensuring that exported materials through the supply chain go to an environmentally sound use. This will become more important as new product stewardship programs are developed which could result in waste, that is not classified as hazardous in accordance with the Act its regulations, undergoing further treatment (dismantling for product recovery) or used in facilities (for example for energy recovery, energy generation or pyrolysis) that don’t have the same stringent controls in place to protect the environment or safeguards in place to protect the health and safety of workers. Other by-products might even be illegally dumped or incinerated.

With a number of Australian industries signalling a strong intension to move towards a circular economical way to value product and service inputs and outputs, we need to become smarter as to how we assess our downstream supply chains and in particular health and environmental impacts.

Equilibrium has started a review of international programs with the aim of providing guidance to Australian companies to ensure that they aren’t just providing a burden to other countries and enduring reputational risk but rather ensuring exported materials are destined for an environmentally sound use.

This guidance is expected to be completed in early 2017.

Child Car Safety Seats – What a Valuable Waste!

Sitting and gathering dust in a garage and waiting for the right time to pass on your used child car safety seat to a friend or relative may soon be a thing of the past.

Child car safety seats that have been involved in an accident or have been mistreated could result in damage to a number of the key safety components. Continuous exposure to heat and sunlight, something Australia’s climate serves up best, could also degrade the plastic structure and other important parts.

It has been found that the average consumer has little knowledge about the existence of recommended expiry dates and the continuingly updated Australian Standards applied to the manufacture of child car safety seats – which in turn has an impact on the suitability of seats to protect children and infants over a period of time.

Removing potentially unsafe or worn or damaged child car safety seats from the market will not only protect children and infants, but could provide an opportunity to responsibly divert these products from landfill and implement an efficient resource recovery and recycling program.

Without a means to effectively remove child car safety seats from the public domain, expired and damaged seats may remain in circulation. They could be offered for sale in online stores such as Gumtree and eBay, illegally dumped on the side of a road or removed from kerbside hard rubbish collections to only be reused again.

There are currently no general programs or schemes within Australia to enable parents to responsibly dispose of and/or recycle child car safety seats. With a growing population and demand for new products, the cost to Governments and communities for the collection and disposal of child car safety seats will only increase.

Setting up a product stewardship and recycling program presents an opportunity to reduce the end-of-life child car safety seats being reused, sold or ending up in landfills which is what Equilibrium, an Australian based sustainability consulting and management company, is hoping to achieve.

Equilibrium will be bringing together a number of key stakeholders from product importers and manufacturers, retailers, automotive clubs and recyclers in early October 2016 to explore how a voluntary product stewardship program might be established to manage the whole of life cycle of a child car safety seat and significantly increase resource recovery and recycling as a result of providing an avenue to return and recycle end-of-life systems.

GlobalPSC Guest Blog http://www.globalpsc.net/child-car-safety-seats-what-a-valuable-waste/

Putting mattress recycling to bed

Mattress recycling has been a nightmare for many years, but we can all now sleep a bit easier as new approaches will be putting the problem to bed.

TIC Mattress Recycling has built Australia’s first automated mattress deconstruction facility, located in Melbourne’s western suburbs, and is on track to have another plant up and running in Sydney before the end of 2016.

The technology breaks down the problems that have plagued local government and consumers – namely that mattress recycling in Australia has to date been dogged by unsustainable operators, boom and bust cycles, and poor environmental and safety outcomes.

Indeed, TIC’s technological development has renewed government interest and support in mattress recycling, and the sector is poised to increase the recovery and recycling of mattresses nationally.

In January 2016, the New South Wales Government through the NSW Environmental Trust announced a $794,000 grant to TIC to enable fast-tracking of automated and advanced end-of-life mattress recycling for NSW.

TIC Mattress Recycling managing director, Michael Warren, says his company’s approach automates mattress deconstruction to provide greater economies of scale, improved environmental outcomes, and reduced health and safety risks.

“The TIC system automatically deconstructs up to 60 mattresses per hour with almost no manual handling and produces clean streams of steel, foam and textiles,” says Warren. “Our system is contained and includes dust extraction, so there is not only protection of human health, but [it] also minimises the risks that materials or pollutants may escape from the process.”

Estimates are that between 1.2 and 1.5 million mattresses are disposed of in Australia each year and, according to a November 2012 study, 85 percent of end-of-life mattresses could be ending up in landfill. The study, ‘Options for a Pilot Project to Increase Recycling of Mattresses’, was done for the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Environment and found significant resources were being lost due to lack of recycling.

Another issue for policy-makers, local government, mattress manufacturers and retailers is that even the mattresses being recovered for recycling are often poorly managed, resulting in very low levels of resource recovery.

TIC says local government, in particular, should be aware of the price it pays for ‘recycling’. Warren says he has seen councils choose providers because they offer a marginally cheaper service.

“A council may save 50 cents or a dollar per mattress but, in reality, it is not paying for a recycling service,” he says. “A lot of mattresses are going to shredding operations or similar processes and they recover about 35 percent of the mattress by weight. It should be called what it really is, size reduction.”

Having said that, Warren says TIC is not against shredding and size reduction of mattresses in limited circumstances. “Soiled, wet and damaged mattresses may be best shredded where handling and processing will cause safety risks or are deemed impractical,” he says.

“It may also be appropriate in some remote locations, as the movement of mattresses is expensive, and rural and regional centres can’t always access high quality recycling.”

Mattresses are readily recyclable. On average, Australian mattresses weigh 30 kilograms and the steel, foam and textiles that are readily recyclable account for between 24 and 26 kilograms of material.

A 2015 study for the Victorian Government’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) by Mobius Environmental found that the problem is growing. In Melbourne alone in 2015 the report found there were 427,000 new mattresses sold, and retailers report they are selling more mattresses every year as the population increases and mattress life decreases.

The report, ‘Mattress Recycling in Melbourne and Greater Geelong’, found that, of the mattresses being collected for recycling, almost half were being shredded. This resulted in the situation that from all of the mattresses being ‘recycled’, 45 percent of the materials were actually still going to landfill.

The report also identified high levels of illegal dumping and that local government continues to carry the bulk of the costs for collection and recycling.

In a recent statement, chief executive of MWRRG, Rob Millard, says the report supports councils moving to new procurement models in order to drive good environmental and financial outcomes.

“Using these findings we will work with councils to develop best practice approaches, seek processing options from the market and create new collective procurement contracts to recycle mattresses from council hard waste collections and transfer stations,” says Millard in the statement.

TIC’s Michael Warren says current recovery practices rely on manual dismantling or shredding of whole mattresses and, while effective to an extent, these approaches have limitations and cannot meet government and community expectations.

“Manual practices cannot process significant volume without a lot of labour,” he says. “Manual processing also has inherent occupational health and safety risks related to the handling activity, as well as the potential exposure of workers to dust and pollutants. While some operators have been able to maintain manual operations over a reasonable period of time, manual mattress processing has generally proved to not be financially sustainable.”

Many parts of the world have now enacted more stringent regulations and product stewardship schemes, and are rapidly implementing more sophisticated programs and driving more mattress recycling. The US, the UK, Canada and many countries in Europe are pursuing high resource recovery processes and growing mattress recycling.

In the US, a strong independent product stewardship scheme for mattresses has been established and California, among other states, now requires a levy of US$11 for each mattress sold. The money goes into a mattress recycling scheme where consumers can dispose of end-of-life mattresses for free and recycling is carried out by authorised recyclers to an audited standard.

 

The explosion of regulation and product stewardship overseas has fuelled interest in TIC’s technology. While Warren won’t detail specific enquiries, he says TIC is in advanced discussion with six other countries that want to purchase the technology.

Australian governments – national and state – have so far declined to support a product stewardship scheme for mattresses. A select group of Australia’s mattress manufacturers and retailers have commenced discussions to establish a take-back scheme; however, proposals to date still require consumers and local government to pay the cost of mattress collection and recycling.

Warren says he supported product stewardship and any such scheme must be open, transparent and accountable. “The key objectives of product stewardship are to respect the waste hierarchy and share waste management costs,” he says.

“If a scheme is to work and recover significant volumes of mattresses for recycling, then there must be strong standards and specifications that ensure participants are achieving good environmental and social results. And, of course, any scheme must have independence, strong governance and not be controlled by self-interest.”

“A well-designed scheme that gives the whole supply chain – manufacturers, retailers, consumers, collectors and recyclers – the ability to participate and encourages competition will ensure a sustainable approach to increased mattress recycling.”

TIC Mattress Recycling commenced operations in 2013 with a combination of manual and automated processes and, with the new facility now being commissioned, is transitioning to fully automated operations. TIC’s technology is based on the RetourMatras system from the Netherlands that has been further developed over the last two years and tailored for Australian conditions.

Corporate Waste Solutions https://www.fmmagazine.com.au/sectors/putting-mattress-recycling-to-bed/

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