Transforming Waste Recovery in Western Australia

Instant Waste Management

Instant Waste Management is the largest privately owned waste management and recycling company in Western Australia. The family run business is predominately focused on the construction and demolition industries and delivers a wide range of services, from waste collections and recycling all the way through to fully integrated waste collection contracts for both the private and public sectors.

The company serves Perth and the surrounding north west and south west regions of Western Australia with an extensive fleet of vehicles, a comprehensive range of bins, and a brand new, state of the art Material Recovery Facility.

Focused on Recycling

Instant Waste Management doesn’t just manage waste – the company maximises recycling and resource regeneration opportunities. “We are leaders in the environmental space in regards to recycling waste rather than landfilling it,” says State Resource Development Manager Jake Hickey. The company is at the leading edge of providing sustainable solutions for recycling construction waste and is involved in numerous non-profits and associations that promote responsible waste management. The team even advises the government on recycling solutions.

These efforts are particularly important because Western Australia’s recycling rates lag behind the rest of the country quite dramatically. “We are the worst mainland state for recycling and we produce the most waste per capita,” Mr Hickey reports. “So we are really behind the eight ball in that.” In fact, “as a state, Western Australia only recycles approximately 30 per cent of its construction demolition waste.” The team wants to see its state achieve the same level of responsible waste management that other regions of Australia have reached. “We really want to bring WA closer to the Eastern States’ recycling targets,” Mr Hickey explains.

Part of the problem, he believes, is the fact that Western Australia does not have the same level of taxation on landfill materials as most other states do. The landfill levy is “$12.00 to $25.00 approximately per ton in WA, whereas in the eastern states it well exceeds $100 a ton. We can see the government using that tax to encourage the industry to recycle more by increasing that levy in the short term.” Indeed, Mr Hickey says that the landfill levy is likely to soon be raised in Western Australia. “We are expecting there to be increases in the near future on the cost of landfill in WA in order to drive people toward recycling. Industry is doing its best but government is looking to step in.” And, when government steps in, Instant Waste Management will be able to provide substantial cost savings to the construction and demolition industry.

Material Recovery Facility

Instant Waste Management has recently opened a leading edge Material Recovery Facility to better serve its customers. “It is the first fully integrated, state of the art construction and demolition material recovery facility in WA,” Mr Hickey reports. The company has invested around $15 million into the project over the last two years and is now reaping the benefits.

Perhaps best of all, the total recovery facility can recycle between 80 to 90 per cent of construction demolition waste in a single skip bin system. “That is really a very critical factor,” Mr Hickey points out. “There is no need to source separate anymore.” Until now, it was best practice to sort waste onsite, but this solution never worked very well. “The subcontractors and the builders just didn’t do it,” Mr Hickey admits. “Nobody would. Behaviour change was difficult to implement and it was costly as well.”

The Material Recovery Facility can treat and process over 200,000 tons of mixed C&D waste each year. It boasts half a kilometre worth of conveyor line and the latest in recycling technology, including a rotating electromagnet, a floatation tank, a sand oscillation screen, and one of the largest shredders that has ever been imported into the Western Australian recycling industry. These machines are able to extract a remarkable variety of materials from the construction and demolition waste including sand, wood, metals, brick, light materials, and concrete. Furthermore, many of these recovered materials will eventually be returned to the Western Australian construction industry. For instance, the metal that the electromagnet removes will be shipped away for further processing, then used as reinforcement inside the state’s concrete structures. The sand that the facility recovers is put to a particularly good use, since this building material is remarkably scarce in Western Australia. “We live on the edge of the desert, but it is quite ironic that we are actually five million tons short every year of sand that we need to build in WA,” Mr Hickey reports. Sand recovered by Instant Waste Management will go on to be used as a fill material underneath housing slabs.

The Material Recovery Facility’s complex processes and high level of waste recovery are new to Western Australia. “We are following European trends,” Mr Hickey explains. “We are leading the way.” In fact, much of the facility’s design is a closely guarded secret – but the team still wants to educate the industry and the public about its forward leaning facility and what it can achieve. In fact, Instant Waste Management gives tours of its Material Recovery Facility and employs Green Smart professionals to provide educational presentations. “We’ve had over 700 key industry stakeholders go through our viewing balcony,” Mr Hickey reports, including two different Ministers for the Environment. “We are basically teaching people that when you put it in the bin it doesn’t just disappear off into a landfill,” Mr Hickey explains. “It comes to this state of the art facility.”

The company is also hosting 140 university students this month. The students are learning about sustainable home design and a visit to the facility is an ideal teaching tool because future designers need to be keenly aware of minimising waste. “Poor design in the industry has actually contributed to substantial waste being produced. It is always better to try and design out excess waste in the beginning, rather than producing too much.”

Instant Waste Management also has an online video of the facility in action so everyone can get a firsthand look at how waste recovery works. The team placed a camera in a giant Styrofoam cube to create the footage. “We just let it go through the conveyor lines,” Mr Hickey says, likening the experience to a “rubbish roller coaster.” By shooting video on the conveyor belt, the company is able to educate the public while still protecting its intellectual property. “A lot of people were asking if they could take pictures,” Mr Hickey recalls, but this posed an obvious risk to trade secrets. “By putting the camera on the conveyor lines and then using stop motion speeded up footage, [viewers] can’t tell the angles and the speeds of the conveyors and they don’t get to see any of the sensitive parts of our facility.”

Industry Recognition

Instant Waste Management has received widespread recognition for its recycling and waste recovery efforts. “We’ve won so many awards that we have started sponsoring awards recognising other people for their achievements in recycling,” Mr Hickey shares. The company has recently acknowledged Western Australia’s Fiona Stanley Hospital for recycling 97 per cent of its waste and the team plans to continue highlighting the achievements of others.

Instant Waste Management also wants to acknowledge its customers. “I’d like to give recognition to our customers,” Mr Hickey remarks. “It is important to recognise the fact that we are a service oriented provider and that without the support and loyalty of our customer base, the business wouldn’t be as big as it is today.”

Mr Hickey believes that, with the help of its customers, Instant Waste Management will be able to continue achieving higher and higher levels of recycling; in fact, the company is aiming for an ultimate goal of zero waste to landfill. Mr Hickey knows that this is an ambitious proposition. “Zero waste is a very difficult number to achieve,” he admits. “99.999 is probably more likely.” This minute amount of waste would still be an incredible achievement, of course. And, when Instant Waste Management’s current level of success is taken into consideration, it is easy to believe that that this noteworthy goal may not be too far off.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 21, 2021, 5:42 AM AEDT