The Australian recycling industry needs to change now – here’s why and here’s how
From Collins Class Submarines, General Motors Holden to Austral Bricks and now RINO Recycling, General Manager Daniel Blaser knows a thing or two about forging new pathways and creating change.
The cutting edge is where Daniel feels most comfortable and with a double degree in Engineering (Mechanical and Automation), a Masters in Commerce, and a Stanford Executive Program MBA, he’s more than qualified to be there.
Which is important because moving the Australian recycling industry to the cutting edge is his goal.
Blaser says the industry needs to change NOW; he cites a lack of understanding across public and private decision-makers as a major challenge, and calls for consideration of a mandate on the use of recycled product over virgin product in key sectors…
“With a 25-year and almost $65 billion pipeline of infrastructure development planned for Brisbane including major works such as Queens Wharf, Cross River Rail, Brisbane Metro and numerous Brisbane 2032 Games-related developments, the demand for considered, cost effective construction and demolition waste is only set to rise,” he said.
However, he said the Australian commercial waste recovery and recycling industry is well behind European countries in terms of recycling rates and facilities and is historically highly fragmented with disjointed quality control.
“This is why we are at the pointy end right now, there’s lots of opportunity for innovation. We are committed to lead this change and positively impact the environment. Businesses in this sector can’t just talk about change; it’s time to own and deliver it.”
“We must improve significantly and here’s why: we will run out of natural resources and recycling preserves these resources; landfill cannot continue at the same rates, and recycling creates jobs – recycling creates 9.2 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled compared to only 2.8 jobs for the same amount of waste sent to landfill.”
Blaser said one of the biggest challenges for the industry is education about recycled product. This applies to all levels in the decision-making chain, from government officials to local councils, construction companies and consumers.
He said mandates should be considered on the use of recycled product over virgin product for key industries, given the quality levels being achieved which make recycled product equal to, if not superior.
“Mandating the use of recycled product in certain sectors would be the beginning of the change-wave that’s needed. It would drive investment in recycling and have a huge impact on recycling rates in this country. A circular economy is what is best for the country.”
Looking forward 10 to 15 years, Blaser said the commercial waste and recycling industry should be unrecognizable. “In 10 to 15 years, unlike today, recycling will be at the forefront of our minds, the industry will have large scale facilities and recycling hubs that are big businesses.”
“Recycling rates will be drastically increased and there will be significantly more types of materials being recycled. So many different products being made from recycled material – most packaging will be made from recycled material and will be recyclable.”
“The sector will be one of the leading industries in Australia and the world and a key pillar of the economy.”
“And that’s why in 2022 we need to be at the cutting edge.”
Firstly, the abridged version of Daniel Blaser’s career to date - after kicking off at General Motors, he took a role as a design engineer on the Collins Class Submarine project and then moved to Smiths Snackfoods as Engineering Coordinator. His career trajectory continued as Engineering and Projects Manager at CSR PGH Bricks before he was poached to run the Austral Bricks factory. He was promoted to Business Manager of the Tasmanian Austral Bricks business, turned it around and 18 months later was promoted to General Manager of Austral Bricks Queensland. After seven years and successfully spearheading a complete business transformation, Blaser became General Manager Australia of Austral Masonry.
And then, Rino Recycling called, and he could not refuse.
“Rino represents the smart future, and when the call came in that this newly acquired and rebranded business required cultural and operational change, as well as preparation for a multi-million infrastructure investment, it was a perfect storm for me,” he said.
“Rino recycles material that would otherwise go to landfill and creates construction and landscaping materials that are used to build Queensland’s infrastructure. I see this as doing our part to save the planet – we have a very good moral compass, and this is important.”
Already Blaser has made a difference – the company has recently gained certification to supply recycled material for road construction with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, and this year will welcome a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art processing facility that will prove a game-changer. With the ability to segregate plastics and recover over 95% of co-mingled feedstock, it will lead the country in best practice recycling. It’s a big step for the business.