Features, News

The Uber of waste

RecycleSmart

A Sydney-based company is bringing on-demand recycling to your doorstep.

Recent studies show Australians want to do the right thing when it comes to recycling but put it in the “too hard” basket. Up to 30 per cent of what ends up in a household rubbish bin could be recycled. 

Giorgio Baracchi, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of RecycleSmart, is determined to simplify household recycling and get more people involved.

RecycleSmart is described as the Uber of waste – collecting recyclables right from your door.

“We are here to change the way people feel about recycling, so they recycle more things, more often,” Giorgio says. “Australians are keen to do the right thing, but it’s too complicated. We’re making it really easy for them. It’s two clicks to organise collections.”

RecycleSmart is partnering with a dozen councils, including Penrith City Council, Sutherland Shire Council and City of Sydney, to provide an on-demand, free pick-up recycling service to residents. The service is helping to divert more than 15,000 kilograms of waste from landfill each month. It targets “tricky” recyclable items such as soft plastics, clothing, e-waste, batteries and globes, and takes the hassle out of residents having to visit multiple collection centres. 

Tailor-made for participating councils, any materials collected are taken to processing facilities or resource recovery centres within individual Local Government Areas (LGA). In more than two years, RecycleSmart has diverted more than 100 tonnes of waste from landfill and collected more than 55,000 bags full of recyclables during more than 25,000 pick-ups. More than four tonne a month of usable clothing has been taken to charities.

The team says RecycleSmart gives councils agency over the materials collected and an opportunity to promote the diversion of waste from landfill.

“Normally all councils can do is tell residents where to take their recyclables. RecycleSmart gives them agency to not only divert that waste, but make it simple for residents to divert it, and for free,” Giorgio says.

When councils sign up to RecycleSmart, residents in their LGA are given free subscriptions to the service. The subscription entitles residents to two bags of recycling collected every month for free, or they can book a single Power Pickup for two dollars per bag by using the RecycleSmart app. For those who aren’t tech savvy, pick-ups can be arranged by phone.

RecycleSmartThe app is customisable to individual councils and can include information about local waste management services and a bin collection calendar. A comprehensive recycling database, it also provides information on more than 240 separate waste items. RecycleSmart also captures real time data, giving councils an overview of what is being recycled.

“The weights, the bags and a volume metric assessment of what’s in the bags is all recorded,” Giorgio says.

“Councils are used to waiting months for data – we’re giving them live data that can then influence their education to residents about collection and diversion of waste.”

The team at RecycleSmart is passionate about improving recycling rates and reducing reliance on landfill. The Sydney-based start-up is the culmination of years of experience working within local councils and recognising a gap in the services offered. 

Data collected by the team shows there is a noticeable change in recycling behaviour from residents who use RecycleSmart.

“With the first pick-up, we noticed people tended to put in mixed products,” Giorgio says. “When people have a monthly pick-up, they become more aware of what can be recycled.

“Soft plastics is going very strongly every month.” 

The service is “plug and play” and can be operational within 15 days of signing on. RecycleSmart employs drivers from each of the council areas that sign on, and 80 per-cent of the council’s expense for the service is redirected back into employing local people. 

The team says uptake has been strong from New South Wales councils and they are keen to expand into Melbourne and Brisbane. They want to work in urban areas where there will be the greatest diversion of waste from landfill. 

For more information, visit: www.recyclesmart.com 

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