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NSW EPA on a mission to aid SMEs with their waste assessments

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is on a mission to help small to medium enterprises (SMEs) reduce their waste and increase recycling by providing free waste assessments.

According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS), small and medium businesses are a major part of Australia’s economy and accounts for 97.4 per cent of all businesses. ABS believe SMEs to be one of the major contributors to the 6.5 million tonnes of business waste going to landfill every year.

In NSW alone, almost two million tonnes of commercial waste is sent to landfill every year, based on NSW EPA estimates, and on average, 70 per cent of these materials could be avoided, recycled or reused.

The EPA is encouraging these businesses to take advantage of Australia’s largest business recycling program Bin Trim, which is designed to set businesses up for long-term waste management solutions.

Since the launch in 2014, the program has engaged over 22,000 businesses and diverted over 70,000 of tonnes of waste from landfill – 1.25 times the equivalent weight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Amanda Kane, NSW EPA acting director for resource recovery, said that the EPA was making it easy for businesses to optimise their waste and introduce recycling management systems.

“We encourage businesses to get in touch for a free assessment. Through free Bin Trim assessments owners and employees will be provided with simple changes they can make,” Kane said.

“The biggest surprise to many business owners is the possible cost savings from reducing waste collection, as well as a boost in employee engagement.”

The program funds Bin Trim assessors to provide NSW businesses with a free waste assessment and tailored action plan through a simple five-step program:

  • An assessor will visit a site and register the business for the Bin Trim program;
  • The assessor will review business waste and show just how much could be recycled;
  • A tailored waste reduction action plan will be provided along with an assessment for eligibility of an equipment rebate;
  • The assessor will provide practical support and advice to help businesses put their plan into action; and
  • The assessor will conduct a second waste assessment to measure progress.

One organisation proving unnecessary waste doesn’t have to end up in landfill is Escarpment Group – a group of hotels located in the NSW Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley region.

A food macerator was installed at each of Escarpment’s three Blue Mountains hotels, and now, the hotel’s food waste is transformed into recyclable pulp, which is then used to produce organics fertiliser.

“We’ve been able to divert over 1,600 wheelie bins full of food waste from landfill. The Bin Trim program dramatically reduced our waste and enabled our kitchen organic food waste to be diverted from the landfill general waste stream for use in biofuels and compost material,” said Peter Redman, Escarpment Group chief engineer.

“Additionally, we’ve received over $127,000 in Bin Trim rebates for recycling equipment. We’ve also seen improvements across our staff from an engagement perspective and a renewed motivation to keep hitting our sustainability goals.”

Businesses are eligible to participate in Bin Trim if the business has less than 400 employees. In addition, a maximum of five sites from one company can be assessed.

Businesses may also be eligible for a rebate of between $1,000 and $50,000 to cover 50 per cent of the cost of recycling equipment.