Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2013 Contents Southern Cross Care (NSW &
ACT) has signed a three-year
deal with waste and recycling
company Relivit to recycle
tonnes of its incontinence
pad waste, becoming the first aged care
organisation in Australia to sign up to the
new green initiative.
Under the deal, incontinence pad waste
from four of Southern Cross' Sydney
facilities will be diverted from landfill and
processed at a purpose-built recycling
plant set to open in Sydney's western
suburbs next year.
Sydney alone produces almost 100,000
tonnes of absorbent hygiene waste each
year, and aged care organisations account
for more than 10 per cent of that total.
If sent to landfill this waste produces
the same amount of greenhouse gases
as 37,500 cars travelling 15,000 km
Gareth Williamson, managing director
of Relivit, which has brought the patented
technology to Australia, said interest from
the sector has been high, and Relivit is
now in final negotiations with five out of
the ten largest aged care organisations in
NSW, with final contracts expected in the
next couple of months.
At its Western Sydney plant, Relivit
will be able to sterilise the waste and
separate the wood fibre and plastics for
reuse in a variety of paper products,
construction materials and in pet litter
and outdoor furniture.
HIKE IN DISPOSAL COSTS
CEO of Southern Cross Care (NSW &
ACT), Paul McMahon, said incontinence
pads make up the organisation's largest
waste stream, and the Relivit recycling
service will allow the organisation to not
only reduce its landfill costs but to cut its
carbon footprint by 50 per cent.
In NSW, the state's Waste and
Environmental Levy acts as a disincentive
to send waste to landfill and helps to
promote recycling. Based on 2012 levels,
waste disposal costs for landfill will
increase by about 50 per cent over the
next five years to 2018.
Williamson said the introduction of the
carbox tax has also added about $20 per
tonne of waste to landfill disposal costs.
Rising costs combined with sustainability
values have acted as a tipping point for
action, he said.
According to Relivit's figures, in 2011-
12 an average 80 bed aged care facility
in Sydney paid just over $20,000 for the
collection and disposal of its waste and
recycling. By 2018 the same facility could
be paying in excess of $30,000.
"Aged care providers are looking at
opportunities for more recycling and
consolidating of their waste management
procurement to control rising costs
but also for better environmental
sustainability," said Williamson.
He said the aged care sector is also starting
to put the pressure on their contracted
waste management suppliers to address
these issues better. In recent months,
suppliers such as Sita and Cleanaway
have approached Relivit directly to begin
exploring new opportunities.
"Initially we were out there saying,
'please talk to us'. Now, we have aged
care providers keen to reduce costs and
improve recycling and they are asking
their waste contractors what they can do
for them [about reducing waste disposal
costs]," he said.
In fact, Relivit's first contract with
Southern Cross Care (NSW & ACT) was
the result of an introduction made by
Bunzl Outsourcing Services, one of the
largest distributors of continence products
to the NSW aged care market.
"As a distributor of three different
brands of continence aids, we are
finding that Bunzl has an interest in this
issue. Their customers are telling them
they want to recycle continence aids,"
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
To get a better understanding of the
sector's waste, Relivit and the NSW Office
of Environment and Heritage co-funded
and commissioned 10 independent waste
audits at aged care facilities across Sydney
These audits revealed that the average
aged care facility in Sydney produces
approximately 75 tonnes of general waste
per year, the vast majority of which is
being sent to landfill.
Continence pads make up the largest
waste segment at an average of 50 per
cent by volume.
To help aged care providers to prepare
their own waste estimates, Relivit will be
launching a new 'waste calculator' to its
website in May.
Relivit says most aged care facilities
have little information about the make-up
of their waste or even how much waste
Relivit's first plant in Sydney is due to
open in 2014 and will be able to process
about 25, 000 tonnes or 25 per cent
of Sydney's absorbent hygiene waste
per year. More recycling plants across
Australia and New Zealand are planned to
begin operating from next year. n
Sustainability and efficiency
Where good economics
and sustainability meet
A year ago, in our May-June 2012 issue, as part of our 'carbon tax
special report', AAA featured a story on a unique new business
initiative targeting the recycling of absorbent waste products
such as incontinence pads. That article introduced Australia's
first nappy and pad recycling service developed by Relivit. A year
on, sector interest is growing, as aged care providers discover
that environmental sustainability can also mean good financial
sense, write Linda Belardi and Keryn Curtis.
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 57
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