Northern Tasmanian businesses will soon be able to divert tonnes of waste product from landfill via a website described as “Tinder for waste”.
The digital platform ASPIRE works on circular economy principles and connects producers of waste with those who can reuse, repair, remake and recycle the products.
George Town, City of Launceston, Meander Valley, Break O’Day, Flinders Island, West Tamar and Northern Midlands have signed on to the platform.
People and businesses in those council areas with fewer than 20 staff can use it for free, while larger businesses are encouraged to also join for a fee.
ASPIRE was started at the CSIRO and has worked with hundreds of councils and businesses across Australia to drive environmental and economic benefits.
One example of a manufacturer of yeast for the baking industry saw it divert more than 160,000 tonnes from landfill to feedstock for supplements for nearby farms and produce electricity via methane power from bio-digestion.
The financial and environmental cost benefits were also substantial with the company saving more than $40,000 per year in getting the waste to landfill and preventing more than 3000 tonnes of landfill, more than 700 tonnes of carbon dioxide and saving more than 60,000 litres of water.
The construction industry, which accounts for about 80 percent of waste products, is also seen as a potential user.
The 12-month trial of ASPIRE is being overseen by Northern Tasmania Development Corporation and the Northern Tasmania Waste Management Group.
Northern Tasmania Waste Management Group chairman and George Town Council general manager Shane Power said consumers were becoming more environmentally aware and socially conscious, which was reflected in their buying decisions.
“Businesses that demonstrate commitment to the circular economy will appeal to this market segment as well as doing their bit to reduce environmental impacts,” Mr Power said.
“We expect existing businesses will benefit through reducing costs associated with landfill but also add new revenue streams through maximising value from their business processes from large manufacturing to small niche industries or even service providers.
“We also expect new businesses will evolve in the remanufacturing and recycling processing space, creating job opportunities, including social enterprise, maximising resource value and enhancing the regional economy.”
Mr Power said Northern Tasmania already had some great examples of local business and industry leading the way in the circular economy and was confident ASPIRE would provide a marketplace that complements established circular economy ventures.
“It will also encourage existing businesses to embrace circular economy principles, knowing it not only contributes to a sustainable environment, but makes great business sense also.”
NTDC chief executive Mark Baker said the concept of a circular economy was becoming increasingly mainstream and complemented Tasmania’s competitive advantage in renewable energy and plans to produce green hydrogen.
“Increasingly, the world is moving away from a take it, make it, break it and throw it out mentally to a reuse, repurpose, repair, recycle,” Mr Baker said.
“For generations we have been putting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste into landfill without fully recognising its potential. Such is the size and missed opportunity of that waste, some countries are actually mining their landfill for chemicals and minerals. Northern Tasmania is not at that stage but this is a first step in proving the benefits of a circular economy approach.”
ASPIRE chief executive Cameron McKenzie was thrilled to launch the platform in Northern Tasmania.
“We look forward to working with the councils and business community to introduce ASPIRE as a solution to reduce their landfill levels, build business networks and save real dollars by exchanging waste as a resource,” Mr McKenzie.