Better information, better recycling with GTR

GTR AWESOME platform

Green Technology Recycling’s Alex Samsudin is harnessing the power of technology and data science to improve e-waste recycling in Australia to create the AWESOME platform – and hopes the industry will join him on the journey. 

Alex Samsudin never set out to build a career in e-waste recycling. He started dismantling electronics as a source of income in 2009 to support his software engineering studies at Canberra’s Australian National University – and he never stopped.

Since December 2020, Alex has been Director of Green Technology Recycling’s (GTR) ACT branch – a business he started as an offshoot of GTR’s New South Wales branch, which is run by his business partner. 

At GTR ACT, Alex is putting his software engineering background to use – combining his skills and industry experience to prototype an integrated software solution that he hopes could benefit the Australian e-waste recycling industry.

“At first, I started building a system just to make my own life easier as a small business owner,” he says.

This started as a means to automate some of the menial administrative tasks involved with data destruction, warehouse management, and generating reports.

“The other problem we had from the very start, is we could find no single point of reference to help identify and manage the many different types of materials – there’s no Wikipedia for e-waste,” Alex says.

“To recycle e-waste properly, you are also required to be able to track exactly where it comes from, where it’s going, and what’s happening to it.”

Alex says some software solutions existed for certain tasks – and some worked well – but he found using a cobbled-together system of different software solutions cumbersome.

“Coming from a software engineering point-of-view, I knew there was a way we could make everything more integrated,” he says.

“By now, I think the processes for managing e-waste should be a lot more advanced, especially because it’s a waste stream that’s always changing.”

This combination of factors has led Alex to develop a prototype platform he calls AWESOME.

“It’s ‘AWESOME’ because it’s an Automated Waste Enterprise System that’s Online, Modular, and Easy to use,” he says. 

Integrated and versatile

The AWESOME platform is made up of seven primary modules, including systems for managing customer relationships; warehouse and inventory; work health safety; documents; reporting; data administration; and compliance.

Alex says AWESOME is designed to be modular, scalable, and customisable; while also easy to “plug and play” for businesses, with web-based options for maximum portability.

AWESOME platform
Green Technology Recycling ACT Director Alex Samsudin.

“A business can choose to implement all modules, or just a subset of modules depending on its needs,” Alex says. 

“No module relies on another, so you can plug and play as you need. If you still want to use an external document manage system, or you have a subscription to a different warehouse management system – go for it.” 

Alex acknowledges that some businesses are protective of their data, and are not always comfortable using cloud services.

“We don’t take data security for granted,” he says. “If they like, a business could just run it locally in their warehouse – they don’t have to connect it to the internet.”

Streamlined compliance

“Working in e-waste, there’s a lot of compliance and standards you need to follow,” Alex says.

“My platform closely follows the AS/NZS 5377 and ISO 9001 certification guidelines.”

Combined, these standards outline the minimum requirements for safely collecting, managing, and recycling e-waste material in Australia and New Zealand. These include maximising material recovery, protecting the health of workers, and minimising harm to the environment. 

Alex says streamlining audit processes could be a key benefit of an integrated platform such as AWESOME.

“I’ve been through the same kind of audits for the past seven years, and they are always looking for the same things – they tend to follow the same kind of flow and structure,” he says.

These can include the downstream tracking of recycled materials, staff training, data security, and risk management, to name a few.

Alex says his platform could be used to generate any necessary data or reports with the click of a button, rather than having to dig through a mishmash of Excel spreadsheets, emails, virtual and physical documents.

“I think any e-waste company – or any other sort of company that goes through similar certification processes – will feel the same way I feel,” he says. 

Opportunity for collaboration 

Alex says his platform is still in its prototype stage, and work on it will be ongoing – but as a system designed to evolve and grow with the industries it serves, AWESOME will always be a work in progress.

He also thinks it could present an opportunity for the industry to work together for mutual benefit, and to improve the quality of e-waste recycling overall.

“Everybody wants to recycle, and everybody wants to do it the right way,” he says. “So, we should be trying to find common ground.”

Alex says there’s a great deal that businesses could learn from each other without compromising their operations. Establishing a standardised resource for e-waste information and data could be valuable – and something his AWESOME platform could help facilitate. 

“It’s all about information sharing. My system is just intended to help point people in the right direction – whether that’s a business, a governing body, an auditor, or the public,” he says. 

“If they have a question to ask about e-waste recycling, they can find the answer, or at least the right direction to go to find it.” 

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