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RecycleSmart ramps up offerings with commercial waste

RecycleSmart is in its fifth year of helping Australia on track to transition to a circular economy. It is a company that started out with modest goals but has now hit the accelerator as it starts to expand its offerings into the market.

The company initially offered small-size collections of varying waste streams – from 60 litres up to 240 litres – aimed at businesses with office waste rather than commercial.

Dr Amitoj Singh is RecycleSmart’s Head of Sales, and he is excited about how the company is ramping up its exposure to the wider community by servicing council libraries, town halls and even community recycling centres.

“We covered off a lot of waste streams, but our offerings left out a chunk of this equation, which is your operational waste,” he said. “We’re talking about manufacturers, construction companies, any other kind of industrial operation where there is operational waste that ranges from cardboard to plastic to timber.”

Singh said that RecycleSmart realised there is a certain gap that needs addressing. We also know that sorting out these troublesome waste streams can be more expensive compared to other waste contractors, due to more effort needed for recycling the problematic kind of materials. That’s why the company entered the commercial field of recycling for businesses. The service has been going for about six months, and the feedback from businesses and councils has been positive, according to Singh.

“Some councils were saying to us, ‘we want something that you would deliver at your community recycling centre because you’ve got a solution for X number of streams’,” he said.

One of the key selling points was pointing out the value proposition that dealing with a single contractor instead of several operators over such waste streams was beneficial for several reasons, including that it covers off on several waste streams at once with a single point-of-contact.

“The councils would have to go through a tender arrangement with each one,” said Singh. “The internal resourcing that they end up putting into it would be significant as well.”

As for the scale of the service, as mentioned, RecycleSmart used to offer collections up to 240 litres. That service still stands, but this expanded offering includes vans and trucks capable of moving up to 20,000 litres of waste, or a semi-trailer truck that can manage 20 tonnes. 

“To put that in context, a semi-trailer can easily hold 36 bales of soft plastics, with each bale being about 300 kilos,” said Singh. “It’s been phenomenal,” he said. “In the past six months since we’ve started the service, seven councils have joined up.”

Singh is optimistic about the future. There are a few issues that need to fall into place for everything to work, such as machinery that will help to process larger quantities of products. RecycleSmart has a good relationship with processors such as APR and Close the Loop, which is integral for the processing to be successful. 

“We want to expand from just processing soft plastics,” he said. “For example, we have added polystyrene to the list. E-waste is another one. There’s a lot of manufacturing plants out there that have a lot of e-waste and equipment gathering dust. It’s about looking at the value proposition for those things.”

Singh said the company is also aware of mistakes made by those offering similar services and will not overextend itself when it comes to processing materials.

“At the moment we’re only taking what we can get processed, which is where we want to be,” he said. “We have the means to report back to all our businesses and councils using real time traceability. There are solid consolidation points across different geographies. This is where materials are collected – whether it’s from a business or council – then it goes into one of our main consolidation points in Mascot or Artarmon in Sydney. At any point, at any given time of the day, we can tell our customer that we are holding ‘X’ amount of a particular waste steam. Once we have enough for shipment, we’ll send it out to be recycled.”

Singh said RecycleSmart is constantly looking for warehousing as the business ramps up. The company is also carrying out projects on behalf of other entities. This includes working with Transport for Tomorrow, which is replacing wooden railway sleepers with concrete versions. In this instance, there was no need to store the used wooden sleepers. 

“They contacted us to see if we could do something about getting rid of them,” he said. “We found a recycling program, which meant in that case we didn’t have to store the goods ourselves. We just took them directly from the producer to the consumer.”

RecycleSmart’s future is looking bright as it sets out to expand to most populated centres around the country. 

“We have been on a quest for a nationwide launch since last year,” said Singh. “We launched in South Australia recently. We’ll soon be in Western Australia and Tasmania. And after that, once we have consolidation points, as well as operation capacity in each of these regions, we can consolidate materials and send them where they need to be sent.”  

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