In our line of business, problems come as a two-sided coin. Our job as environmental innovators is to flip that coin and see the solutions. SmartMatta’s mission is to be an ethical waste management company who drives the world closer to zero waste, one transformative innovation at a time.
But how? How do we use innovative thinking as a springboard to launch sustainable solutions?
Let’s use a recent client engagement as a case in point. Obviously every client’s needs are different, and so too is the process to address those needs. But here is just one example of the way we worked together to build some workable, winning solutions that aligned to our client’s zero waste goals.
- Framing the problem
With an average carbon emissions of 1048507.2 Kg/Co2e per year, the client approached SmartMatta around May 2020, looking for ways to reduce its footprint. Historically they had relied on coal to heat their boilers – the result of which 75 tons worth of boiler ash landed monthly in landfill. Disposal costs and legislative fees were high and only rising. The need for an energy alternative was urgent, but whether that alternative could fuel the same level of production was debatable.
- Finding the solution
The client wanted to introduce wood as an alternative energy source, which could substitute for coal on a rotational basis. Then seeing the gap for reinvention, SmartMatta recommended transforming the ash into a value-add commodity. For a handling fee and the cost of transport, the client could divert its coal ash to a local brick-making company to be used for manufacturing bricks across their 5 sites.
All that was left to resolve in this solution was the wood residue. (Wood chip ash cannot be used for making bricks.) SmartMatta contacted a local composter who relied on wood ash for their fertiliser and compost, and a partnership was soon under way.
- Measuring the wins
The stats so far have been extremely positive! Have a look at the progress we have seen between the months of June-December 2020:
- Coal ash makes up 73% of the total boiler ash. In volume, that comes to 84940 kg. That means that between June-December 2020 nearly 85 tons of boiler coal ash was diverted for brick making, rather than being dumped in our landfills.
- Wood chip ash makes up 27% of the total boiler ash. This translates into nearly 31 tons (30760 kg) of wood chip ash that was diverted from landfill and sent to the composter between June-December 2020.
- Altogether the boiler ash volume (including both coal and wood ash) totals 115 700 kg. This means that almost 116 tons of a resource previously seen as waste, was now being regenerated and absorbed into the circular economy between June-December 2020.
- Previous recycling rate: 62% | June-Dec 2020 recycling rate: 73%
- Previous landfill rate: 38% | June-Dec 2020 landfill rate: 27%
The precise emissions savings is still to be determined. But there are obvious savings here, considering that all that ash once sent to landfill (with an average annual carbon emissions of 1048507.2 Kg/Co2e per year) has now been diverted and repurposed.
The client has seen measurable savings since implementing the ash diversion solution. Granted, the client does pay a handling fee to transport the ash for brickmaking and composting. However, this handling/disposal fee is fractional compared to the costs of moving waste to landfill.
Of course our goal is to optimise these outcomes and to help our client reap even greater benefits in 2021. So far we are on track: in Jan and Feb 2021 96% of all waste was recycled, and only 4% was sent to landfill.
It’s not always easy to keep honing your innovative edge. Zero waste solutions can sometimes present as a moving target. But this project, like so many others, reminds us: the challenge of constantly moving to meet that target is worth every effort required.
Let us help you to move in the direction of your preferred future. Contact us so we can help you make zero waste an achievable and measurable reality, today.