ASPIRE brings matchmaking to recycling

Registering on ASPIRE
A partnership between CSIRO and four Victorian metro councils has led to the creation of ASPIRE, a portal to link generators of waste resources with businesses that can use them.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure is an overused adage in this industry. Yet this saying is at the heart of a new online portal that puts circular economy principles into action, and demonstrates how waste can be a valuable resource.

ASPIRE – the Advisory System for Process Innovation and Resource Exchange – was developed in response to conversation between manufacturing companies and local councils about high waste disposal costs as landfill levies increase.

It coincides with the trend of companies looking for more sustainable ways of accessing materials and managing the waste impacts of their operations.

Supported by the Victorian Government’s Digital Futures Fund, CSIRO developed ASPIRE in a project led by City of Kingston in partnership with Hume, Knox and Greater Dandenong councils.

The online exchange allows businesses to share details of industrial and commercial material resources for potential reuse or remanufacture. A waste or by-product from one facility is used as an input to another.

“We call it an online matchmaker service for small businesses,” says Angela Stubbs, Acting Manager – Economic Development at City of Kingston.

Changing the perception of “waste”, ASPIRE aims to drive greater engagement around resource recovery and alternatives to landfill, as well as identifying opportunities in materials.

The project architects say ASPIRE has reduced operating costs, created new business opportunities and jobs, improved commercial awareness of waste streams, and increased knowledge of possibilities for exchanging resources.

The partner councils started trialling it in November 2015. Angela says the take- up and reaction to it has been widely positive with more than 100 SMEs registering since launch.

“Each council promotes awareness of ASPIRE and the opportunity to register and exchange material resources through business events and communications, and it is growing steadily,” she explains.

For the founders, ASPIRE offers exciting potential for recycling in Australia, saving firms money, strengthening their environmental credentials and stimulating innovation.

“With so many innovative products being made out of recycled materials the opportunities are endless,” Angela adds. “Also, some companies are seeking alternative inputs to their processes, which creates a whole new market for particular resources that would otherwise have been considered waste.”

To read more check out page 20 of Issue 8.

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