Jim Fairweather, ResourceCo CEO, speaks with Waste Management Review about developing new markets for the re-use of end-of-life products.
Leading Australasian resource recovery company ResourceCo has welcomed the release of CSIRO’s National Circular Economy Roadmap as further evidence of the strong support for a transition to a circular economy.
The report lays out a strategy to unlock Australia’s circularity, with the Federal Government setting a national target to reduce waste to landfill by 80 per cent by 2030.
Jim Fairweather, ResourceCo CEO, says the report reflects the critical role of the resource recovery sector in delivering the transformational change required to embrace waste as a resource rather than a problem.
“Our sector is stepping up to the plate in tackling the challenges of processing and recovering valuable products from the waste we produce, particularly on the back of the waste export bans,” Fairweather says.
He adds that ResourceCo has a long-standing history of delivering strong environmental and economic outcomes by repurposing materials otherwise destined for landfill.
“We’re excited to continue to drive positive change through a growth strategy centred on delivery of an agile business model that embraces innovation in resource recovery.”
CSIRO’s roadmap identifies science and technology as a crucial enabler to realising the country’s largest economic gains, including job creation.
It lays out a practical and achievable approach to making sustainability profitable, identifying six elements for moving towards a circular economy for plastics, paper, glass and tyres.
These elements include retaining material through use and collection, upscaling and innovating recycling technologies, developing markets for secondary materials and the products that use them, and securing a national zero waste culture.
As the Federal Government’s waste export bans are progressively rolled out, Fairweather say Australia will need to radically increase its capacity to generate and market high value recycled commodities.
“Now more than ever there is a sense of urgency to get the right mix to drive the country’s circular economy and that will require strong procurement commitments and policy harmonisation across all states,” he explains.
“If we create the right environment, then investment and innovation will follow. Already ResourceCo is focused on developing new markets for the re-use of end-of-life products.”
Fairweather adds that ResourceCo’s most recent project – a partnership with the Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority to trial the repurposing of waste glass into road construction material – provides a strong example of how the company is working to create value in material otherwise destined for landfill.
“On that project we’ve also worked closely with the South Australian Government to ensure we meet the Department of Infrastructure and Transport’s specifications for road construction – it’s a great example of how strategic partnerships have the potential to deliver real results,” Fairweather says.
“We’re also exploring options to progress plans for the installation of a glass washing and processing plant to ensure glass from material recovery facilities can be reprocessed back into sand for use in civil construction.”
Tyrecycle, ResourceCo’s tyre recycling division, is also partnering with the Kariyarra Aboriginal Corporation on a game changing project in the Pilbara.
The project, focused on the development of a secure tyre processing facility at Port Hedland, recently received joint funding from the Federal Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund and the Western Australian Government.
“We’re proud to be helping deliver transformational change in Western Australia through an environmentally sustainable solution for waste mining tyres and conveyor belts, while creating local employment and a boost to the economy,” Fairweather says.
“It’s a project that has huge upsides and will go a long way towards addressing legacy issues with mining waste.”
According to Fairweather, approximately 40,000 tonnes of waste tyres and potentially more used conveyor belts are currently stockpiled, managed in-pit and buried onsite each year in the Pilbara’s mining sector.
“This project provides a cost-effective solution to a long-standing environmental problem,” he says.
CSIRO’s National Circular Economy Roadmap recognises that innovations and partnerships will be key to achieving set targets and in ensuring the growth of future industries around these goals.
“Whilst we’re making real progress, and certainly the increased focus on the repurposing of waste is very encouraging, we acknowledge there’s still work to be done,” Fairweather says.
“We look forward to working alongside government and industry partners to accelerate those efforts in 2021 and beyond, and to progress Australia’s transition to a sustainable circular economy.”
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