Australia’s domestic recycling industry was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year after the implementation of China’s ban on foreign waste imports. These bans put a stop to the 7.3 million metric tonnes of waste plastics being imported each year from developed countries including the UK, US, Japan and Australia. With bans now in place, waste management companies are facing one of their biggest challenges in recent history, and Australian environmental solutions company Closed Loop is stepping up to the challenge.
Finding local solutions for managing waste is a top priority, and Closed Loop is already implementing some initiatives of its own.
“Over the past 20 years we have faced many challenges, and this is the most exciting for Australia’s future”, said Closed Loop managing director Robert Pascoe.“We have a genuine opportunity now to turn this situation into a winner by making valuable new end-use products locally from resources we used to put into landfill or export overseas, creating a genuine sustainable future by providing jobs and massive environmental improvement.”
Closed Loop is the official sustainability sponsor of this year’s Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show, and will be showcasing recycling projects they are developing with the help of local partners. One of the most prominent is the Simply Cups coffee cup recycling program, which was featured in last year’s ABC program special War On Waste. With Australians using over 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year, this massive waste stream has gone unchecked for many years.
Simply Cups is gaining significant traction in market thanks to their pioneering partner 7-Eleven — the second largest retailer of takeaway coffees — who has already committed to recycling over 70 million cups through the program each year to account for the number of coffee and Slurpee cups they sell. 7-Eleven rolled out the program in over 200 stores on March 27.
Qantas, a longtime partner of Closed Loop, also joined the Simply Cups program and commenced collections at their Mascot headquarters, with rollouts planned for collections in-flight and across domestic airport lounges. Qantas is incentivising businesses to establish Simply Cups collections in their office through a lucrative Qantas Business Rewards program.
Visitors to this year’s MIFGS also participated in the Simply Cups program, with special coffee cup collection bins installed to collect and recycle the tens of thousands of coffee cups used throughout the event. Cups collected through the 7-Eleven program, key partners including Qantas, and events like MIFGS will be used to kickstart a local recycling plant, with cup materials being sent off for use in new products.
One local manufacturer with the technology to use coffee cup plastics is Newtecpoly. Like Simply Cups, Newtecpoly is committed to closing the loop on a problematic waste stream by making new products like planter boxes and outdoor furniture from recycled plastics.
Another recycled product on display at Closed Loop’s exhibit was the innovative rCup — a reusable coffee cup made from recycled takeaway cups. The rCup is currently made in the UK using cups collected through the Simply Cups UK program. With one rCup being made from six takeaway coffee cups, it is an exciting example of the circular economy at work.
Closed Loop also has its sights set on another important waste stream — food waste. Working with food waste for some time now, Closed Loop supplies mechanical composting units to a number of restaurants and food-based businesses to convert food scraps into usable compost for parks and gardens. At this year’s MIFGS, Closed Loop launched a new organic product called Bag of Plenty — a slow release organic fertiliser derived from 100% food waste. Developed with Circular Food, Closed Loop’s organic composting units assist in the process of converting food waste into nutrient-rich fertiliser pellets suitable for use on any home garden.
As Australia’s recycling industry faces a big period of change, Closed Loop welcomes this as an opportunity to collaborate with local companies and create new ways to close the loop on a range of leading waste streams. Mr Pascoe congratulated the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show as one of Australia’s long-standing premier events that is working towards a sustainable future.
“Closed Loop is delighted to be able to support such an event, particularly as it embraces so many of the sustainability initiatives that are at the heart of our business”.