Investing in Australian recycling innovation

Re.Group Pty Ltd
Wednesday, 01 June, 2022

As the world works towards net zero emissions by 2050, the recycling sector continues to play an important role by improving the recovery of valuable resources. Resources that can contribute to the productive economy, rather than being disposed of as waste while new virgin resources are dug out of the earth. Through innovation and investment, by engaging deeply with the community, and by working with those who manufacture the items that end up in our waste streams, we can rapidly multiply the positive impacts our sector already has.

Re.Group is at the forefront of investment and innovation in this space. The Re.Group approach focuses on continuous improvement, rather than a set-and-forget method. New opportunities are emerging all the time, and by seizing them we can mitigate many issues that impact on our communities and the health of our environment.

Return-It is the part of Re.Group that operates modern container refund networks. As well as recovering used beverage containers, one way Return-It aims to improve recovery of the earth’s resources is through the utilisation of existing collection networks to recover additional materials. For example, one of the biggest issues facing the recycling sector is fire risk from batteries incorrectly placed into kerbside bins. Return-It is combating this — and helping recover finite resources — by drawing on existing collection systems to provide customers with an opportunity to safely recycle batteries and mobile phones through deposit bins on site.

Return-It currently operates in the ACT, Qld, WA and NSW, and provides a variety of container return point options, from depots to reverse vending machines, all with the idea to provide equitable access to container collection networks for the community and encourage consumer behaviour change. The community focus doesn’t stop there, with Return-It’s pioneering partnerships with community organisations and charities. We are constantly curious, and looking for ways to go beyond the obvious to add more value. We don’t just count containers and hand out 10c pieces, we work with community groups to help maximise the positive impacts of our activities.

Re.Group’s commitment to innovation and exploring new approaches extends to each partner we engage with. Our recently launched Adelaide Southern Materials Recovery Facility (SMRF) was established under a long-term Joint Venture (JV) approach between Re.Group and the three participating Councils of the Southern Region Waste Resource Authority (SRWRA). While Re.Group is 100% responsible for the day-to-day operations and maintenance, the JV approach with strategic input from all parties gives strong community ownership over the SMRF outcomes.

The largest MRF in South Australia, the SMRF also demonstrates advances in technology that allow us to meet new quality standards. An array of optical sorting and robotic quality control technology is deployed to improve the quality of the products recovered, and prepare them for future use. It is exciting to see what is possible now, that wasn’t possible just a few years ago — and we know that these innovations and advances will continue.

Re.Group is committed to continue investing in developing, operating and maintaining recycling facilities that our communities can be proud of. As we move into a busy period of building new infrastructure, and upgrading existing infrastructure, it is exciting to think of the enhanced positive impacts we can deliver on behalf of our clients and communities.

Image captions: Adelaide Southern Materials Recovery Facility (SMRF)

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