Can Recycling Save You Money? ♻️ Podcast Ep. 22 Don’t Be A Waster


In this episode of our podcast on all things recycling – we debate on whether or not recycling can indeed save you some money, so read on to learn more.



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Transcript: Can Recycling Save You Money?


Hello recyclers! And welcome to another edition of our podcast: Recycle, Don’t be a Waster.


In today’s episode, because it is coming up to a federal election here on Australia, we want to, I suppose, we’re on the campaign trail and we are pushing the numbers and talking about saving money and every cents counts and all that things just like just like your favourite or least favourite politicians.


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Shall we say so, in today’s episode, we want to discuss – I suppose it’s something that a lot of waste companies a lot of recycling companies, a lot of the media talk about that recycling can save you money for businesses. I pretty much will focus on business commercial enterprises in this context, but the argument is that recycling can save you money, so that’s what we will discuss today.


I suppose, you know, if you say, will recycling save you money, you have to start somewhere. And where you start from is a standard business – let’s just say a café, and that business recycles nothing it has no waste management or recycling plan in this you know alternate reality in which we live because, like realistically, nearly everybody recycles something. But, let’s just assume that this is coming from the dark ages and that everything goes in, in the red general waste bin and nothing gets recycled. So, let’s look at that and see can we save money or and then apply that to the wider the wider industry wider examples of business.


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So fundamentally, the answer is yes the answer is yes recycling up to a point will save you money it’s like anything else don’t people talk about the 80 20 rule that 80 percent of benefits come from 20 percent of effort and all those sort of things some people even say in 90 10.but is that the pareto principle I can’t I can’t remember but it’s something along those lines and in in this instance the low hanging fruit we are using political jargon today so yeah be aware the low hanging fruit the easier implementable services can really save you money so let’s just take a café it’s getting say one let’s just use standard numbers it’s getting two meters of waste general waste picked up every week and that’s costing let’s say a hundred dollars so and that’s the standard enough price roughly in say somewhere like Sydney other states can be a bit cheaper.


Brisbane’s a bit cheaper based on landfill levies etc. but in this context, we’ll talk about Sydney, because with a heavier, larger landfill levy that other cities like capital cities Melbourne, Adelaide, will likely see in the future – that this story will become more like Sydney than what Brisbane has been like.


So first step can you save money yes you certainly can by simply bringing in something such as a cardboard bin service if we’re saying that a meter of waste in Sydney for the café costs 50 bucks a meter you could probably get the same size of cardboard bin for maybe ten dollars ten dollars a meter so if you had significant amounts of cardboard as nearly all businesses do packaging etc. you put in a cardboard bin service that will certainly save you money and then what you in an ideal world you might have one meter of waste and one meter of cardboard and your price you know your cost would drop from 100 bucks down to 60 bucks so that’s I think in any waste management plan we always suggest cardboard as a first position in other businesses you know you would have other waste that potentially you might even get money back for certainly metal items like steel copper.


Those sort of metals can be extremely valuable and you would really certainly if in large quantities or clean quantities and you would want to go to a metal recycler which will be available in every city and you probably get paid a rebate based on the weight and the quality of what you’re dropping off so ignoring those sort of things you also actually interestingly may get a rebate for large amounts of e-waste if you had large amounts of you know computers or stuff along those of that nature modern tv sets you again may receive a rebid if you transport it to the facility so just thought I’d point those out because they are interesting.


So, back to the café example, if you’ve done your cardboard, then yes you know what else will it will a café be producing chances are there’ll be milk bottles there’ll be cans of tomatoes there’ll be counts of different substances if you’re serving alcohol you may have cancer beer bottles wine bottles those sort of things and so again a commingled service will certainly save you money and commingled which is the yellow bin the price tends to be between the cardboard and the general waist so let’s assume rather than if general waste is 50 cardboard is 10 and these are indicative prices but the ratios are roughly correct then your co-mingle could be between 25 and 30.


So again, if you can reduce that general waste service and implement commingled, you again will save money so this is where it gets to and then we are I suppose we’re getting to where the question gets a bit more complicated up to this point yes you certainly can save money but I think once you go beyond this what you’re looking at is aspects such as do you look at a food waste bin because let’s assume this café has food scraps food waste coffee grounds these sort of things, you know, at this point in time you’re looking really at a food waste bin which in many regards, you could argue it would be break even.


I think at best it probably would be great break-even but with that break even cost basis because food waste bins are reasonably expensive with that obviously there are environmental benefits but from a purely cost cold hard cash approach it’s break even you could and you also have to factor in the effort that you’re putting into it in separating that waste having management systems in place in your kitchens so the staff know what material they put in which bin likely posters a little bit of education those sort of things so it is getting to the position at that point where it is more difficult so I think like in general can recycling save you money yes it can is it to a position where it can reduce your cost for waste management, you know, to zero at this point in time, know, like in 2022 that that is not possible given where we are.


And I think this is something that we touched on in a previous episode about waste levies. The argument for a waste levy that artificially increases the price for general waste anything that’s dumped at landfill the argument was there that it would do two things it would incentivize you to recycle by making recycling services relatively not absolutely but relatively cheaper than general waste and yes that is true for cardboard and commingled and then the second argument was that it would take money bring that money and make it that is collected the millions and millions of dollars collected from the land for and then it would build new facilities etc. to, you know, to enable you to recycle, to make it cheaper, to enable you to you know –  recycle your food waste or whatever it is like nappy waste or any niche or harder to recycle some substance.


I think what we looked at in a previous episode was that really that hasn’t happened a lot of this money this tax money is purely, it’s raised by government and it’s spent on things that are completely unrelated to waste or recycling and so we’re left in a scenario where small business, cafes restaurants you know child care centres offices whatever it is – shops – they tend to be paying tax really what is a hidden tax in the form of levies and they don’t really have an option to escape it.


So like my view personally is if you can’t escape a levy by doing something else then in reality it’s just attacks and it’s a tax on doing business so I think that’s where we are recycling certainly will minimize your that aspect due to the levy the impact of the levy relatively you’ll save money by making certain choices by reciting cardboard and paper metal and commingle recycling but it does then reach you know the cost and the benefits sort of reach a point where it becomes cost neutral let’s say to do any more and I suppose for our society to really move beyond where we are I think that cost benefit analysis has to it has to change and it has to become more beneficial to recycle and less costly so that you know we push that wherever we are in the x and y axis we push them further out so that you know we go from recycling x percent to you know doubling that performance.


Yeah, so there we are today I there are many ways you can you know reduce your waste you know home composting worm farms all these sort of things but I think what is important to note with these there’s an old saying that time is money and all of these things will take time I really believe that for us to make real headway in recycling we need to make it easy make it as super easy as possible for people for employees for managers for business you know for residents and when it is cost effective cheaper and easier people will do will do what we hope they do they’ll do the right thing and we’ve all talked about nudging I’ll be honest through cover I think we’ve all had enough nudging to last a lifetime but I think I think at the minute we’re probably being nudged into doing the wrong thing due to costs and different aspects of recycling so I think in some aspect we need to change the messaging around that and make it beneficial to people to recycle more so we’ll leave it there today once again have a great a great week and we’re coming up to the Easter long holiday so have a great Easter and we’ll see you next week: Recycle, don’t be a Waster!


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