Brisbane business setting national circular economy agenda
B & C Plastics' construction and development waste sustainability story
Tens of thousands of plastic paint pails destined for landfill have been recycled into new products designed for the original consumer, with a Brisbane business leading a ‘true circular economy’.
Project Earth is just the beginning of what Meadowbrook’s B & C Plastics owners Royston and Wendy Kent expect will drive the future of plastic circular economy in Australia.
In conjunction with Dulux, the Project Earth pilot has diverted tens of thousands of plastic pain pails from landfill. The paint pails are collected, wire handles are removed and recycled, then the pail is chipped and shredded into a pellet compound, which is put into an injection molding machine and heat is used to create a paint tray.
Royston says the final product is both sustainable and commercially viable. There are plans to expand the Queensland pilot program nationally.
“There has to be commercial viability but where we can embrace the circular economy, it makes sense to,” he said.
“Most people want to do the right thing and as a business we’re asking questions about how and where we can do things sustainably.
“We need to use plastics day-to-day but when we do, we focus on how we can make a positive impact using the circular economy, starting with the design, development and manufacture using recycled plastic.”
B & C Plastics design, develop and manufacture plastic injection model products. The business has been in operation for more than 30 years but Royston and Wendy took over 16 years ago, leading a sustainable change.
“We were manufacturing with 90% virgin materials but there has been a strategy shift which has attracted more like minded customers from a circular economy perspective,” Royston said.
“Dulux came to us with a waste stream which they wanted to divert form landfill. We didn’t have the answers straight away but we started the research and development journey.
“To be able to divert potentially thousands of tons of plastic from landfill, and design and develop new products is true circular economy, developing a product which can be used in the same industry.
“It’s allowed us to be very specific on who we are as a business. We are the go-to company for design and development, but also circular economy products from a post-consumer or post-industrial waste stream.
“The project has helped define who we are.”
Dulux Trade Commercial Sustainability Manager Mark Taylor said some businesses could spend up to $180,000 a year to dispose of plastic Dulux paint containers with large construction companies using up to 40,000 containers per project.
“We created a lot of plastic waste,” Mr Taylor said.
“Sustainability is one of our core values and this project has allowed us to divert waste from landfill and not only save the customer significant amounts of money but turn that pail into something we can sell.”
Royston said the more awareness individuals and businesses had in the circular economy, the more impact they were able to make.
“The next few years is going to be an interesting journey. We see recycled material becoming a real commodity,” he said.
“I feel we will become the partner of choice, the company people look to when they want to improve the value chain. Manufacturing locally adds real value.”
A sustainable business focus
B & C Plastics is one of more than 1000 Queensland businesses to benefit from Business Chamber Queensland's ecoBiz program, helping them to increase efficiencies and save money on water, waste and energy.
Wendy said the business accessed the program in 2019, helping them to cut water and energy use by 10% and waste by 45% within the first year.
“It all started with data and the last 12 months of bills – water and electricity consumption as well as waste,” Wendy said.
“Based on that we had a coaching session and were given some ideas on how we could cut down which is invaluable for a business.
“We've saved a lot of money, which obviously is a good thing and we've saved so much waste going into landfill. We've cut down on our power and water so it's an incredible journey we've been on with ecoBiz.
“By joining the program you’re doing the right thing for the environment but also the right thing for your business.”
“We're really proud of the amount of work we're doing at the moment in the sustainability space. That's really exciting for us, something we’re passionate about and believe in strongly.”
With the help of an ecoBiz sustainability expert, businesses are supported to develop an action plan to help save money and increase efficiencies. More than 90% of participating businesses recorded an increase in productivity and savings.
For details see the ecoBiz website here.