The Kritic

‘Environment’ Category

Suez Resource Recovery

Lucas Heights Resource Recovery CentreSource Tee Kay

The Suez (formerly known as Sita) Lucas Heights Resource Recovery Centre is one of the largest landfill sites in the Sydney Basin. The facility is approximately 165 hectares and opened in 1987 with plans to increase the landfill by 8.3 million cubic metres and extend operations at the site until 2037.

According to the Suez website Community & Education section[1] they advise: “For many years we have known that disposing of waste to landfill will not be sustainable in the long-term and, as a society, we must be looking at ways to better manage how we deal with waste.
As part of the global community our ultimate aim should be to minimise waste to landfill by preventing the creation of waste and recovering reusable resources by recycling waste into a usable commodity.
Improving recycling in Australia will not only reduce our carbon footprint, but reduce the dependence we have on non renewable resources.”

The Suez Lucas Heights Resource Recovery Centre receives over 157,000 cars and trucks each year.

After a wedding reception held on a private property I was tasked with a tip run and headed off to Lucas Heights to the Resource Recovery Centre. I had a covered 8×4 trailer load of mainly glass bottles, separated into colours, and flattened cardboard boxes.

I pulled onto the weighbridge and stopped at the window where the attendant asked what I was dumping. I stated that "It’s about 80% sorted glass bottles and the rest is cardboard boxes". The attendant advised to "Put the cardboard in the paper recycling bin and take the rest to the Waste Collection Point". The Waste Collection Point is a gathering of bins available for items that are not reused or recycled. The waste in these bins is then taken around to the landfill hole for disposal. I responded with "Maybe you misheard me but 80% is sorted glass bottles". The attendant then said "We don’t recycle glass here, it just goes in the ground."
I was stunned by that statement and when I recovered I said "But you are a resource recovery centre?" to which the attendant replied "We don’t recycle glass here as we have to pay for trucks to take it away."

So approximately three cubic metres of perfectly recyclable glass bottles are now taking up space underground. No wonder they have plans to increase the landfill by 8.3 million cubic metres!

At a dinner party recently this subject was mentioned and one of the guests stated that they had also been told to put the glass in the Waste Collection Point for landfill.

On deciding to investigate this apparent Resource Recovery Farce further I went to the Suez Lucas Heights web page[2] to see what they said about their resource and recovery efforts. Under the heading “Resource Recovery Centre” I found the following information:

The Resource Recovery Centre and Waste Collection point is an area for small vehicles to drop off recyclable materials.

  • Recyclables; eg. plastic containers, paper, cardboard, cans
  • Scrap metal; eg. washing machines, stoves, bicycles
  • Hazardous items; eg. paint, vehicle batteries, engine oil, gas cylinders
  • Milk crates
  • Old clothing
  • Household rubble; eg. bricks, concrete, roof files and terracotta pies (which are all processed for reuse on site)

No mention of glass containers at all.

This information confirms what the attendant had said so I decided to go direct to Suez to obtain some clarification on how glass containers are treated at their facility. After many transfers around various departments I was finally put through to Shay Menyweather – Communications Coordinator SUEZ Australia & New Zealand. Shay listened to the details of my enquiry, took my email address and said he would get back to me as soon as possible. Soon after my call Shay sent through an email requesting a list of my questions that he would put to the "Lucas Heights Team" that afternoon.

I put the following questions to Shay Menyweather:

  1. Why do you not recycle glass at that facility?
  2. Is the response by the attendant of “We don’t recycle glass as we have to pay for trucks to take it away.” correct?
  3. If this is the case; do you not have to pay to transport other recyclables to the various recyclers, such as steel mills?
  4. Are there plans to start accepting glass for recycling and, if so, when will they come into effect?

After nine days and two emails apologising for the delay in getting back to me, a response via email came through from Shay with a further apology for the extended delay followed by a quote in response to my questions for for this post:

"We do not currently accept glass bottles for recycling at our Lucas Heights facility. The closest drop off point for glass recycling is the Reverse Garbage Co-Operative LTD." – Luke Schepen, Corporate Affairs Manager, SUEZ.

After all that time this underwhelming quote completely ignored the questions posed. The problem with the quote is that Luke Schepen is not just out of touch with the environmental need to recycle glass containers brought in by residents, instead of putting them into the ground, but he is attempting to pass the responsibility onto "the Reverse Garbage Co-Operative LTD."[3] which is 40 kilometres, about an hours drive North East according to Google Maps, away from the Lucas Heights facility but more importantly DOES NOT ACCEPT GLASS CONTAINERS FOR RECYCLING!

So please do not take your glass containers there as it will only be a massive waste of your time. They do however provide an excellent "Reverse Garbage" service where suitable resource items including reusable off-cuts, over-runs, art & craft materials, stage props, knick-knacks, furniture and other items are made available to the general public for creative use or ‘reuse’. By using these resources to create new items or to give items a new purpose it ultimately prolongs the life of the resource.

The following are quotes from residents of the Shire and outside the Shire but close enough to it to use the Lucas Heights facility.

  1. "This would have to be the most ridiculous situation I have come across. I think the council or the EPA should instruct Suez that they must take glass containers for recycling and to not dump them in the ground." – A.Maltby, Miranda
  2. "How can Suez be so irresponsible? What is the point of a resource recovery centre if it doesn’t recover a resource such as glass?" – D.Preston, Sutherland
  3. "Quite simply unacceptable! Luke Schepen needs to drag himself into the 21st century. How can he hold his position at Suez?" – D.Pinson, Cronulla
  4. "I took a load of beer bottles to the tip at Lucas Heights and was told to put them in the Waste Collection Point. What a waste of a reusable resource!" – R.Nils, Liverpool

Yesterday, I had a conversation about this subject with Jamie Lepre. Jamie is a Co-founder of Environment-To-Be[3] which is an eco-minded social organisation that seeks to improve mental, physical and spiritual environments. The conversation can be summed up with the following quote from Jamie:

"Recently, Environment-To-Be started our own local clean up events and to say glass bottles are among one of the most commonly retrieved items in the bush would be an understatement.

It seems like an utter waste to spend such time and effort pulling trash out of the local environment to find that any recyclable glass found will simply be crushed into the landfill without a second thought at the Suez Resource Recovery Centre in Lucas Heights.

The use of recycled glass containers is endless and if we are to move to a plastic free environment, we need to know that it’s replacement will have more longevity in the consumer cycle than it’s predecessor.

Luke Schepen, of SUEZ, needs to act without delay to remedy the situation of the Lucas Heights facility sending glass containers to landfill instead of recycling them."

Sutherland Shire Council was contacted on the 7th June, 2017 regarding this farce and their response, after two weeks, is quite apathetic when it comes to putting glass containers into landfill. Their statement reads “As the SUEZ facility at Lucas Heights is operated by a private company, we are unable to comment on their glass recycling services.” But they do “…encourage our residents to use the (yellow lidded) bin for the recycling of glass bottles and jars so that the glass reaches the correct facility for sorting and then onto other manufacturers for recycling.”

If you feel that Sutherland Shire Council should take a more proactive stance on this matter then drop them an email at wasteinfo@ssc.nsw.gov.au and let them know.

The NSW EPA[5] was contacted with regards to the licensing of the facility and whether the licence allows the facility to not recycle glass. The reply came from Katie Ritchie, Senior Public Affairs Officer – Public Affairs, and states “The Environment Protection Licence issued by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for the SUEZ Lucas Heights Resource Recovery Centre permits the operator to accept glass for recycling or disposal in the landfill. There is a financial disincentive to dispose of waste material that can be recycled, as the waste levy will be payable on all waste materials disposed of at the landfill.”

So the SUEZ Lucas Heights Resource Recovery Centre is not only wasting a valuable resource by dumping recyclable glass into landfill they are actually wasting money by paying the waste levy to do so!

If you would like to let Suez know that their policy of dumping glass containers, brought in by residents, into landfill is totally unacceptable then please call them on 13 13 35 and ask to speak to Shay Menyweather or contact Shay via his email address shay.menyweather@suez.com

[1] Suez Website Community & Education section – http://www.sita.com.au/community-education/site-tours-education/recycling-tips/
[2] Lucas Heights Resource Recovery Centre Web page – https://www.sita.com.au/facilities/map-of-australia/lucas-heights/
[3] Reverse Garbage – https://reversegarbage.org.au/
[4] Environment–To–Be – https://www.facebook.com/pg/Environmenttobe
[5] The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) – https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/

Who Gives A Crap

Who Gives A Crap?Source: Good Goods

Have you ever wondered Who Gives A Crap every time you wipe your bum? I am sure the 2.4 billion people that don’t have access to a toilet do. If you could lend a hand to these people with every motion you have would you?

In 2010 Australian trio Simon Griffiths, Jehan Ratnatung and Danny Alexander began working on a new social business to address the fact that 40% of the world’s population does not have access to a toilet. “We wanted to find a way to use mass-market products that are available anywhere in Australia. The answer: toilet paper! We quickly realised we were onto something and Who Gives a Crap[1] was born.” says Simon Griffiths. So in July 2012, Simon, Jehan and Danny launched Who Gives A Crap with a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo[2] which ended up raising $66,548, 133% of their $50,000 fixed goal by the end of the campaign. They were able to deliver their first product in March 2013.

Who Gives A Crap is a feel good toilet paper from an Australian company, with offices in the UK and USA, whose social and environmental mission is integral to the project. The company donates 50% of its profits to non-profit organisations working to improve access to hygiene, water and basic sanitation in developing countries. WaterAid[3] is one such organisation and it has deep experience and skill in implementing high impact sanitation projects throughout the developing world.

The Who Gives A Crap Brand Mission

“Our goal is to make sure everyone has access to a toilet by 2050. Building a sustainable business model that delivers quality and environmentally responsible products at competitive prices is how we’re going to get there.”

Their Brand Mission is reflected in the choice of materials that their products are made from, mainly 100% Recycled paper, Bamboo and Sugarcane. The decision to set up operations in China was a decision made after taking into consideration a number of factors. These includes things like:

  • Product quality and packaging options: e.g. being able use paper wrappers and recycled cardboard boxes rather than plastic – we couldn’t find an Australian producer that could do this.
  • Materials: having access to a large pool of raw materials – post consumer waste paper and bamboo (which isn’t readily available in Australia).
  • Cost of operations: Australian toilet tissue manufacturers are few and far between and also have their own brands to produce and sell – so we’d be their competitors!

The Who Gives A Crap range of products

  • Recycled paper Toilet Paper – Made with 100% recycled paper, No inks, dyes or scents, 3-ply.
  • Premium 100% Bamboo Toilet Paper – Made with 100% forest friendly bamboo, No inks, dyes or scents, 3-ply.
  • Forest Friendly Tissues – Made with 100% bamboo, 3-ply.
  • Forest Friendly Paper Towels – Made with a blend of bamboo and sugarcane, Super strong 2-ply, No inks, dyes or scents.
  • Roll Model Jumbo Roles – Made with 100% recycled paper, 300 metre rolls for use in industrial dispensers, No inks, dyes or chlorine, 2-ply.
  • 100% Money Back Guarantee on all products.

Impact to date

According to their website they have, to date, donated $478,500 and they say “…and we’re just getting started!” Through their forest friendly paper products they have saved 30,797 trees. By making their products using eco-friendly materials they have saved 74 million litres of water and by using cleaner processes they have avoided 5,922 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.[4]

Sanergy[5] is one of Who Gives A Crap’s favourite organisations in the loo world and a new partner. Sanergy build low-cost, high-quality Fresh Life Toilets and then franchise them out to locals they call Fresh Life Operators to clean up Nairobi’s slums. Then they collect the waste from every one of their hundreds of toilets each week and turn it into useful agricultural products like fertiliser and animal feed, which they sell to Kenyan farmers. Who Gives A Crap have donated $50,000 towards their work.

Who Gives A Crap are on track to achieve $1 million in total donations by the end of the financial year.

Who assesses your claim about donating 50% of profits?

“We are certified B Corp, which means that we’ve been assessed as a ‘for benefit’ company, rather than purely ‘for profit’. This certification covers a wide range of aspects of our business and ranks our performance across a rigorous set of criteria. Part of this certification involved an independent assessment of our financial statements confirming our claim to donate at least 50% to charities.”[6]

B Corporations are a group of companies that are using the power of business to create a positive impact on the world and generate a shared and durable prosperity for all. The Who Gives A Crap 2016 B Impact Report, which is published online[7], gives Who Gives A Crap a score of 101, out of a maximum of 200, where as the median score for all assessed companies is just 55.

Who verifies your claims about environmental impact and sustainability?

We’ve had an independent life cycle assessment of our business undertaken by Life Cycles in October 2016 to ensure that the environmental claims we make are backed up by science.[8]

Lifecycles[9] undertook an environmental mapping project to help Who Gives A Crap back up their claims and understand what the actual environmental impacts are of their activities. This was accomplished by undertaking a Life Cycle Assessment(LCA) study that included raw materials of their different product ranges (recycled paper, bagasse, bamboo), packaging, transport & logistics and company overheads.

Where is your stuff made?

Where we choose to produce our products is a big deal, and setting up operations in China is a decision we’ve made after taking into consideration a number of factors. These includes things like:

  • Product quality and packaging options: e.g. being able use paper wrappers and recycled cardboard boxes rather than plastic – we couldn’t find an Australian producer that could do this.
  • Materials: having access to a large pool of raw materials – post consumer waste paper and bamboo (which isn’t readily available in Australia).
  • Cost of operations: Australian toilet tissue manufacturers are few and far between and also have their own brands to produce and sell – so we’d be their competitors!

In seeking further information as to why they decided to set up production in China and use Chinese sourced materials Who Gives A Crap Customer Happiness Executive Megan Olney responded with the following information:

“Our bamboo is predominantly grown in remote areas of Sichuan Province, China by local farmers who plant bamboo on the borders of their small family farms to supplement their income. Unlike industrial agriculture (like special plantation forests created for toilet paper and other paper products) no vast areas of land are cleared. On top of this, the bamboo process is all very localised. Each village has their own bamboo co-op and after it has been harvested, it gets chipped and then goes to a local pulp factory. Sourcing bamboo this way means there’s no adverse affects on natural forestry or wildlife.”

“At this stage there are no Australian producers making bamboo pulp.”

“There are only two Australian producers who make recycled tissue paper domestically (alongside their non-recycled, virgin tree production). Both of these producers have their own brand of recycled toilet paper that they produce and sell into Australian supermarkets. We have spoken to these producers in the early stages of launching our business and were very close to working with them to produce our products, but they then decided to pull out of negotiations in favour of selling their own brands, which is totally understandable. We are a competitor to their own business interests, so we couldn’t work with either. Instead, we had to find a producer from outside of Australia, and China made the most sense.”

How do you monitor working conditions and wages in the second world country of China?

At our request, our recycled paper producer has been independently audited and certified by the BSCI[10] (Business Social Compliance Initiative). The BSCI audit focuses on driving social compliance and improvements in global supply chain management. The audit scored our producer the highest grade available across multiple categories including workers rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, no discrimination, no child labour, no precarious employment, no bonded labour, and ethical business behaviours. They also scored highly in the category of fair remuneration. Of course there’s always room for improvement and we will be working closely with our producers to ensure a transparent working relationship.

Concern for the amount of fossil fuel miles attached by the shipping from China to Australia.

It’s great that Who Gives A Crap use a renewable resource for their product range but it would be better if that resource did not come with so many fossil fuel miles attached by the shipping from China to Australia. So how does Who Gives A Crap justify this? I was referred to the following information[11]:

“We’re based in Melbourne but also have warehousing in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth. Our manufacturer is based in China and we ship via sea freight directly into each of the ports where our warehouses are located (apart from Canberra of course!).

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the transport emissions incurred as a result of our shipping are slightly lower than they would be if we manufactured domestically in a single location and road-freighted stock across the country. To test this reasoning, we’ve commissioned an initial analysis of our whole business practice by an external life cycle assessment group. This analysis has included modelling the environmental impacts of three production scenarios:

  • Producing in China and sea freighting into each port
  • Producing in Victoria and road freighting into the major cities
  • Producing in Victoria and rail / road freighting into the major cities

The analysis included modelling outputs of global warming potentials, particulate matter, land use, and water scarcity. The results show that there are no consequential environmental benefits if we were to produce locally in Australia. This is largely because our operation minimises road transport emissions as much as possible by shipping directly into the major ports and distributing from there (sea freight miles are 6-10 times less emissions-intensive than road miles).

The above analysis does not include final deliveries from warehouse to customer (which would happen regardless of where we produced). But we’re proud to say that we’ve partnered with Sendle[12], Australia’s first carbon neutral delivery service, to deliver all our packages going to TAS, ACT, NSW, QLD, and metro VIC.”

Can you envision a future where producing your product takes place domestically?

Megan Olney responded with “It’s certainly never off the table. If the conditions and available options to produce the product we want domestically become available, it’s definitely something we’d seriously consider. There are real instances where the choices we make aren’t straightforward and barriers can and do exist, but we’re always looking for ways we can learn and improve what we’re doing. The more toilet rolls we can sell, the more influence we might have down the track.”

“Crap” Brand Promotion

Given the name of the brand you can imagine the amount of toilet humour that comes along because of it and Who Gives A Crap has taken that and made it an integral part of their promotions. The original IndieGoGo campaign was launched with a live stream of Simon Griffiths sitting on a toilet stating “I’m not leaving this toilet until we pre-sell $50,000 of product”. 50 hours and one cold bottom later, they had raised over $50,000.

BWM Dentsu[13] is calling on Australians to ‘give a crap’ for a great cause via its innovative animated campaign, in which ordinary toilet rolls are transformed into charismatic souls. This is the video:

Testimonials[14]

Sarah L. – Love it!!! Who Gives a Crap is the best ethical toilet paper ever. Super fast delivery and a completely easy ordering process. I love the fact that having toilet paper delivered in bulk helps me to avoid the supermarkets yet again. I’m never going back to the alternative 🙂

Jody T. – I give a crap. Not only is this toilet paper great on your bum but every time we go to the toilet we show that we give a crap. Admire these guys for their ingenuity and for taking caring for others to a whole new light. Just love it.

Jenna M. – Excellent paper. Not only do we feel really good about buying 100% post consumer recycled loo paper with no plastic packaging that helps create access to toilets in the 3rd world, but it’s actually really good toilet paper! soft and thick and everything you want for your bottom. plus the wrapper makes great wrapping paper and a good conversation starter. great work, thanks.

Tony V. – Who gives a crap – wee can! Great prop for the long drop. Chemical free when your having a wee. Best for you when you’re having a p(ee or oo) Great marketing because the more I spend, the more that goes overseas so that others can enjoy the level of sanitation we take for granted in Oz. Great concept!

Where to purchase the products

If you are in Victoria you can find 6 packs in many independent grocery stores across the state. For the rest of Australia you will need to place an order online.

A special “Thanks” to Elizabeth Walton for her assistance with the background research!

[1] Who Gives A Crap – https://au.whogivesacrap.org/
[2] Indiegogo Who Gives A Crap Campaign – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/who-gives-a-crap-toilet-paper-that-builds-toilets#/
[3] WaterAid – https://www.wateraid.org/au
[4] Impact To Date – https://au.whogivesacrap.org/pages/our-impact
[5] Sanergy building healthy, prosperous communities – https://saner.gy/
[6] How much do you donate in dollar value? – https://support.whogivesacrap.org/hc/en-us/articles/219112747-How-much-do-you-donate-in-dollar-value-
[7] Who Gives A Crap 2016 B Impact Report – https://bcorporation.com.au/community/who-gives-a-crap/impact-report/2016-02-10-000000
[8] Life cycle assessment group – https://www.lifecycles.com.au/
[9] Walk the Talk – https://www.lifecycles.com.au/single-post/2017/01/07/An-environmental-mapping-of-an-eco-product
[10] BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) – https://www.bsci-intl.org/
[11] How emissions intensive is the production and delivery of your product? – https://support.whogivesacrap.org/hc/en-us/articles/219112807-How-emissions-intensive-is-the-production-and-delivery-of-your-product-
[12] Sendle – We help good business deliver – https://www.sendle.com/
[13] BWM Dentsu – https://www.bwmdentsu.com
[14] Testimonials – https://www.facebook.com/WhoGivesACrapTP/app/226132034107547/?ref=page_internal