Cleaning Up

Waste 2 Resources

Despite the drawback of a regulatory framework that lags behind other states, Waste 2 Resources Group is hard at work cleaning up Queensland and managing waste on behalf of its growing clientele both state-wide and beyond…

Privately owned, Waste 2 Resources offers experience, local knowledge and a broad network of business partners, allowing the company to expertly serve customers of all sizes and locations.

Todd Batterham is Sales Manager, Commercial and Industrial, and he explained to Business in Focus that the cost of landfill in Queensland is considerably lower than anywhere else in Australia. When dealing with industrial or even household waste, “you can either pay $60 per tonne to dump it or pay someone $120 to recycle it. What would you do?” This is the only state that does not have an industrial levy, he says, or a tax on infill. “Businesses are penalised not to rethink the processes. Every other state has a levy so you are penalised if you do not have a recycling option in place.”

He believes that, “Queensland is somewhat behind the times in high end facilities for recycling waste.” The only real options are either landfill or the type of waste recovery centre that Waste 2 Resources operates. The company has two such centres – one in Richlands (to the south of the state capital) and another at Narangba (north side of Brisbane). These facilities separate and strip out various substances, taking them from the waste stream and putting them back into the recycled stream.

To be sure, most operations lack the economies of scale to make recycling work in the state because of the way cheap landfills compete unfairly with more environmentally friendly alternatives, says Todd. He adds that every day, thousands of tonnes of waste are trucked across the state border from New South Wales and Victoria because even with factoring in the cost of trucking, the Queensland’s landfill is cheaper than the cost of processing waste in those other states.

One of the most expensive places to deal with waste is Sydney, with a levy around the $100 per tonne mark. “If you load your truck full of rubbish and take it down to the local tip you are paying that $100 per tonne in tax on top of the fee for disposal itself.” But if you bulk up the waste and transport it from Sydney into Queensland you might be paying, say, $50 per tonne in transport fees, but saving the $100 in levies. “That is happening a lot. We even have enquiries from people wanting us to take their waste from Melbourne up here to Queensland – it’s economically viable to do that to avoid paying the tax in Victoria.”

But that is not the kind of business Waste 2 Resources wants to be. “We are not in the market to capture interstate residuals,” says Todd. He doesn’t know whether Queensland will see the light and change its policy on landfill, but he points out that an environmental levy raised several years ago was actually reversed after the change of government in 2011. “Of course businesses do not want to be taxed more heavily than necessary, but the previous government has been doing a fair job” of implementing initiatives for companies to buy equipment and other means to help them deal better with waste. “It’s a bit of a detriment as Queensland is behind the times compared to other states.”

The company does not operate directly into landfills but instead collects and treats waste in one of two ways – first, by sorting and separating the waste at the customer’s location and then transporting the resulting plastic, cardboard, wood or other materials to a centre that specifically recycles that material. Or, Waste 2 Resources transports waste in bulk to its recycling centres where it is sorted and disposed of in similar fashion.

Paper and cardboard are sent for reprocessing into new paper products; steel and other metals are recovered for subsequent use in smelters; timber can be used as a power source or as mulch; various plastics, especially the PET usually used for soft drink bottles, is reformed to chips and sent to manufacturers for reprocessing. The centres also deal with quite a lot of concrete, which is crushed for re-use as road base (as are bricks and paving stones) and plasterboard. The company even has facilities for on-site screening and sieving of soil, removing contaminants and enhancing the soil for re-use. Only products that cannot be recycled are then sent to landfill and, as Todd points out, that proportion gets smaller each year “because our recovery techniques are getting better all the time.” The growing proportion of material that is successfully reclaimed and re-used also makes the operations more cost-effective as time goes by.

Waste 2 Resources has a fleet of around twenty collection trucks based around metro Brisbane and down into the Gold Coast, where most of its business is – although the company can cover much greater areas and in fact has several contracts that are nationwide. The fleet includes several front-lift compaction trucks, the latest market segment. Todd says Waste 2 Resources is the only privately owned small-to-medium sized company operating these vehicles and that system in the region. “A big part of our business plan is offering good customer service and a guaranteed management system, and we have customer businesses who give us all of their work.” For anything the team cannot handle directly, such as any specific material that the company’s own resource recovery centres cannot process, “we make arrangements with partner suppliers so our customer has a one-stop shop service for its waste – one invoice for all its waste needs whether locally or nationally.”

Indeed, Waste 2 Resources has also done work overseas in PNG. The company also undertook another project for the Cavalia Horse Show, an international equestrian / acrobatic show, as it pitched its giant tent at venues throughout Australia for more than a year before setting up the service when it moved to Dubai.

Most of the company’s competition comes from massive multinational corporations involved in waste management. Todd notes his company’s staff turnover is remarkably low, with many of the 50-odd employees still with Waste 2 Resources after a decade or more. He attributes this in part to the fact that the company is relatively small, privately owned and therefore more ‘personal’, so management is always accessible and ‘on the job’.

The same goes for the company’s customers, many of whom appreciate dealing more directly with a company that cares instead of dealing with a small division within a huge corporation busy consolidating, snapping up small companies and often changing management. “Local companies like to deal with local service providers,” Todd says. The proof is in the growth of the company – it’s running in double digits, having evolved from a start-up just a decade ago with only two trucks.

Waste 2 Resources is happy to deal with customers of any size, even down to households turning out waste, and has a thriving ‘skip’ business, run as a separate division called Greenbins. Greenbins hires out, collects and deals with the resultant waste from two or three-square metre skips. It provides services for residential and small-scale construction or demolition purposes (around two-thirds of total clients) right through to the big industrial 20 and 30-square-metre versions.

Hazardous and dangerous waste can be dealt with, and the company will also handle asbestos. “We are licensed under local environment and heritage protection regulations to carry out clean-ups after spills and the like even of classified waste such as contaminated soils or acids.” Again, through a network of strategic partners nationwide, Waste 2 Resources knows where to call if the spill contains anything it does not handle itself. “There is no single company anywhere in Australia that can look after every type of waste stream, but there are specialists who look after specific streams and do it very well. So we have these partnerships with other companies who have a similar business model to ours.” An example is medical waste, which Waste 2 Resources will not handle direct, but can easily arrange to have dealt with by an appropriately equipped expert. One way or another, “we can cater for anything that comes our way.”

For more information about Waste 2 Resources, please visit http://www.waste2resources.com.au.

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September 25, 2018, 8:18 AM AEST