ResourceCo raises recycling capabilities with soil focus

soil recycling

ResourceCo’s soil reuse and recycling division started on the back of the belief that things can be done better.

For the past 10 years, ResourceCo has reused millions of tonnes of soil, from small-scale developments to major infrastructure projects, including the M5 project in New South Wales and the North-East Link project in Victoria.

Steve Harrison, ResourceCo Chief Executive Officer, Soil Reuse and Recycling, says the goal has always been to be a leader within the circular economy.

Historically, this part of ResourceCo’s business has typically reused soil as part of its commitment to diverting material away from landfill. Steve’s now driving a shift within ResourceCo to enhance its in-house capability to also recycle soil, creating a stream of new, high-value products.

“Our extensive market knowledge has enabled us to deliver a strong track record of sophisticated soil reuse solutions for our clients – taking unwanted material from a source site and handling it all the way through to its reuse application,” Steve says. “But we want to focus on what’s at the core of ResourceCo, recognising the value within all the material we handle in order to maximise outcomes for our customers and the environment – that’s where soil recycling adds to our reuse offering. 

“We’re enhancing our internal capability by investing in infrastructure to recycle soil and produce high-quality and sustainably developed sand and topsoil products.”

Playing to strengths

soil recycling
A range of materials are screened and separated throughout ResourceCo’s operations.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australia’s soil is typically low in organic matter, as well as nutrients and is facing pressure from a changing climate, the need to produce more food and fibre, and a growing population.

In a bid to manage and improve soil for the next 20 years, Australia released its first national policy on soil in May 2021, prioritising soil health, empowering innovation and stewards, and strengthening soil knowledge and capability.

The policy aligns with ResourceCo’s ethos to add to Australia’s environmental, economic, and social wellbeing. 

With more than 30 years’ experience in resource recovery across the globe, the company’s increased focus on soil is part of a strategy to better integrate its four business pillars – energy, recycling and waste, tyre recycling, and soil, reuse, and recycling.

“One of our strengths is that we work together as one to maximise the benefits across the company’s business pillars,” Steve says. “We offer solutions for every waste stream our customers will deal with, from the top of a demolition project through to the final excavation.

“With a focus on advanced re-manufacturing, we’ve been maximising the potential value of construction and demolition, commercial and industrial waste and end-of-life tyres for decades. With this expansion, we’re investing in the infrastructure necessary to deliver similar recycling solutions in the soil space.”

Key to this strategy is creating integrated resource recovery sites, effectively making ResourceCo a one-stop-shop for recycling and reuse. 

Previously, soil materials were sent to a third party for cleaning, but the focus is shifting to treat those materials internally. 

By screening concrete and brick from waste soils, the inert material can be crushed into aggregates for civil construction applications, similarly, commercial and industrial waste can be extracted from mixed waste streams for further recycling and, in both cases, residual soil can be reused or recycled.

“Throughout ResourceCo’s operations we screen and separate an extensive range of materials that have value,” Steve says. “We genuinely subscribe to the ethos that there is no such thing as waste, and the reality is, the bulk of what we handle can be recycled into a range of high quality, in-demand products.”

ResourceCo’s soil reuse and recycling pillar operates in three core areas – providing reuse solutions for structural material in the marketplace; reusing fill material in its network of rehabilitation and development sites; and processing and recycling mixed soil materials to create new commodities.

soil recycling
ResourceCo has reused millions of tonnes of soil, from small-scale developments to major infrastructure projects, within Australia.

In Victoria, ResourceCo has three active clean fill sites – in Langwarrin, Bacchus Marsh, and Oaklands Junction – that are rehabilitating two old quarries and working with a landowner to improve their final land form.

Building capacity

Steve says the recent acquisition of waste management provider Sunshine Groupe in Brooklyn, Victoria, is central to the strategy. The Brooklyn site has an established reputation for recycling a variety of construction and demolition materials, creating a wide range of new civil construction products. The site location and size means it has enormous potential to host the company’s growing recycling capabilities.

ResourceCo is boosting its resources as it focuses on the development of new products, including investments into new infrastructure and within its already experienced teams.

The growth, Steve says, is a continual evolution that over the next five years will include expansion across the eastern seaboard and South Australia.

“We already move a lot of material in the soil reuse space. I see that expanding considerably over the next five years,” he says.

Market demand is also set to play a role in the company’s growth. Sand, a key component of concrete, glass, and other essential building material, is in short supply, with an unprecedented demand depleting global supplies. 

In 2022 a United Nations report called for urgent action to avert a sand crisis – including a ban on beach extraction – as demand surged to 50 billion tonnes a year amid population growth and urbanisation.

Steve says that in Australia, it’s a struggle to find sand reserves, with approvals for new quarries difficult to obtain. Those supply shortages, coupled with government mandates to increase the use of recycled products and sustainability targets are forcing companies to look elsewhere.

“The more we can take materials being excavated through the normal construction processes and repurpose them to be a valuable product; that’s a key service,” he says.

“We have seen a lot of our customers now putting recycling first and looking for outcomes around sustainability. That hasn’t always been the case. 

“We all know price is a key driver and always will be. But we’re talking about more than price now, we’re talking about outcomes that focus on prioritising recycling and sustainability more broadly. I think that’s a big turning point and it will continue to increase as we move forward.”

Steve says, historically there’s been a reluctance within industry to use recycled sand because of concerns about the consistency and product quality. 

It’s here that ResourceCo’s decades long experience comes to the fore. He says customers can have confidence in the consistency of the product, and that they’re dealing with a trusted brand. 

Steve says one of the challenges is risk management and having protocols in place to control the quality of materials coming in and the product moving out.

“ResourceCo has been recycling products for a long time, the approach to quality controls we put in place are transferrable across different streams.

“We put a lot of time into making sure the products we’re producing in sand and topsoil are meeting Australian standards,” he says.

ResourceCo also thinks outside the box when it comes to building customer confidence.

Innovation is one of the company’s core values, and it’s an innovative approach that resulted in the development of in-house software that provides customers with real time solutions and tracking on the movement of their materials, so they can see exactly where they end up.

For the North-East Link project in Victoria, the software was tailored to connect with the contractor’s system so its customers could see the project’s sustainability outcomes.

Steve says it’s an example of ResourceCo providing recycling, reuse, and technological solutions for customers.

“Everything we do is centred around diverting waste from landfill, providing the best quality service for our customers and producing products that reduce a reliance on virgin materials.” 

For more information, visit: www.resourceco.com.au

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