At a recent Waste Contractors Association breakfast presentation (WCRA-NSW), EPA NSW is offering to invest $35 million back into the industry; presenter Mark Jackson raised some interesting stats:

  • Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) produce 45% of Sydney’s C&I waste
  • 78% of waste presented to landfill is in mixed loads
  • We need to get an extra 388,000 T diverted to meet 63% targets by 2014
  • 75% could easily be attained if SMEs recycled

The biggest contributors in the mixed waste from SME’s was:

  • Food 14% (440,000 T per year disposed, only 17% recycled)
  • Paper & Cardboard 14% (488,000 T disposed, 54% recycled)
  • Wood 13% (323,000 T per year disposed, only 16% recycled)
  • Plastic 13% (370,000 T per year disposed, only 8% recycled)

Of the 600,000 commercial SMEs, many cite low cost of disposal at less than 5% of their operating costs as a lack of incentive, and many simply aren’t aware of what recycling options are available in their region, or how to find a new waste consuming partner.

To re-invigorate recycling EPA is pumping funds into SME education programs (such as the Bin Trim business advisory workshops through WCRA) to help introduce waste producers to waste consumers and recyclers.

Funds are available to help business improve systems and equipment to increase recycling by improving source separation on-site.

They’re promoting the free matchmaking registry at to help businesses find and meet new local recyclers and potential marriage partners under the concept of “one man’s trash is another mans treasure”. SME Waste Weight watching programs such as Bin Trim are citing weight loss of over 20 T in a year for the average SME (and cost savings of $6,000 to $10,000 on average) to make such business recycling more attractive. Participants in the program can get up to 50% of onsite recycling separation bins, compactors, balers and shredding equipment funded along with onsite composting, dehydration and processing units.

In one case recently working with Onterra Carpets and Dunlop flooring, these new producer/consumer relationships have managed to divert 5,000 t/year of carpet trim and polyurethane foam to be recycled into new carpet underlay product.

Following on from new trend in the UK to encourage Industrial Ecology (business to business (B2B) match-making), the EPA will be establishing 4 regional “Business Social” networks in Sydney Metro, the Hunter, Illawarra and Regional NSW. Make a date with your bigger SME customers (and prospects) to checkout the grants on offer from the EPA from this September/October. And if you’ve not got your rap sheet registered with put your business face in the book and be ready for some serious business social networking!