Circular economy tool expands for greater recycled materials use

Manufacturers seeking to use recycled materials, or ensure that their products have an extended lifespan, have now further options thanks to the recent independence of Advisory System for Processing, Innovation & Resource Exchange (ASPIRE).

Since its development in 2015, the facility was located in CSIRO’s Data61, the data and digital specialist arm of the science agency.

Now, in its new standalone setting, ASPIRE hopes to increase its operations, and make a greater indent in the 67 million tonnes of waste that Australia generates each year.

Already, 300 businesses use ASPIRE, and the platform has saved $207,000 in waste disposal and material costs, according to Cameron McKenzie, the CEO of ASPIRE.

This has also resulted in the reduction CO2 emissions and water through reuse and diversion from landfill,” said McKenzie.

ASPIRE hopes to connect manufacturers with waste managers and create a national network to manage Australia’s waste crisis.

“While we’ve had strong traction in Victoria, we’re scaling ASPIRE nationally to address the increasing need for a way to manage Australia’s growing waste and recycling issues,” said McKenzie.

To date, ASPIRE has utilised waste products, including batteries, e-waste, metals, organics, polystyrene, ferric chloride and timber pallets, for the creation of new products.

Examples of previous projects include a closed-loop polymer manufacturing process using solid sheet thermoplastic products, re-using waste plasterboard and coffee grounds to produce kitty litter, scrap metal recycling, and yeast production.

“Almost 80 per cent of Australia’s waste is generated through commercial, industrial, construction or demolition activities. We developed ASPIRE in response to rising costs of waste management, and to redirect waste to more productive uses,” said research scientist at Data61, Melanie Ayre.

ASPIRE is a digital tool that utilises a match-making algorithm to connect material availability data from businesses with end-users, which have primarily been councils. Data is shared across the network.