Industrial Ecology Project Underway in NSW

Industrial Ecology conceptualises industry as a man-made ecosystem operating similarly to natural ecosystems. In nature the waste or by-products of one process are always used as inputs into another process. So, Industrial Ecology aims to create industrial systems that are not simply a linear process of mining and extraction through to landfilling, but systems that are closed-loop cycles, reusing waste as valuable inputs.
Last month Resource Recovery Australia was awarded two Industrial Ecology Grants under the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative. The grants worth a total of $632,825 are intended to fund four new staff to coordinate an Industrial Ecology Business Network program. And after less than one month in operation the project has already gotten off to a flying start.
The Business Network program will promote business-to-business recycling by linking businesses in need of materials with businesses whose waste has the potential to be diverted from landfill. Manager of Resource Recovery Australia, Liz Stubbs, said that “The funding helps to fill the gap. We can help with the networking, providing commercial and waste expertise to help get the projects off the ground”. Program coordinators from each region will operate as the legs on the ground for businesses whom may not have the human resources required to run such a project.
The programs will run in the Wollongong, South East and South Coast region and also the region between Forster Tuncurry to Tweed Heads. Lisa Miller, coordinator of the South Coast program said “there is more interest in Industrial Ecology than I thought”. At the first meeting there was enormous interest in not only Industrial Ecology and waste diversion but also the opportunities for establishing social enterprise. 
PHOTO: Ideas are exchanged at the first North Coast business network meeting. Already a number of opportunities to divert waste have been identified. Denis who runs the North Coast Program said “So far we’ve looked at everything from piles of oyster shells to more standard product streams such as piles of timber and organic waste”. On the South Coast two enterprises, Soil Co. and Green Connect, both have identified the capacity to increase their uptake of organic waste for the manufacture of compost based products. The possibility of a project re-using pallets is also an opportunity in the North with the idea that they could be shredded and shredded material used for animal bedding.
The Business Network program aims to divert a total of 14,000 tonnes from landfill by April 2015.
For more information contact:
Liz Stubbs
Resource Recovery Australia