Get Your Recycling Game Liner-ed Up

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Which of our bin liners wins for sustainability?

So, you have your recycling bins set up, and you're ready to get your recycling initiative up and running. Now it's time to pick your bin liner.

Biodegradable, degradable, compostable, blue or black - what's the difference?

Be wary of buzzwords

It can be marketing chaos out there with companies throwing buzzwords left, right and centre to sell you their products. In many cases, biodegradable has become the new “99% fat free,” a phrase designed to capture your attention while conveniently downplaying the other not-so-good ingredients.

In 2013 a New Zealand based disposable bag company received a hefty $60,000 fine for misleading customers about the eco-friendliness of their plastic products. Turns out their slogan “here today, gone tomorrow” should have been “here today, here tomorrow, here for hundreds of years to come.”

Cases like this illustrate that if you are wanting to go down the eco-liner route, you should do your homework. Lucky for you, Method is here to help you make sense of the jargon. We have put together a handy guide to to use bin liners effectively, affordably and sustainably.

The sustainability of different liners

Classic Plastic liners:

The classic plastic liner is the most commonly used bin liner, both durable and cost effective. Plastic liners are made from petroleum or natural gas, both non-renewable resources, but can take anywhere from fifteen to a thousand years to degrade.

Degradable liners:

Companies selling degradable liners seem to have ‘forgotten’ to add the bio at the front of the word, in an attempt to sell their products as environmentally friendly without falsely advertising their product.

But don’t be fooled, there is no specified timeframe that a liner sold as “degradable” must degrade. In fact, all plastics could technically be defined as degradable – they all break down eventually. Some plastics have additives that will make the liner break down faster in certain conditions, but this process only transforms large parts of plastic in tiny sized pieces.

Professor Tony Underwood from the University of Sydney described degradable plastic bags as "not a solution to anything much, unless we are quite happy to shift it all into particle-sized plastics rather than plastic bag-sized plastic."

Micro-plastics are hard to contain in landfill and have recently been under scrutiny for their harsh impact on marine life. They are ingested by microorganisms and make their way up the food chain, ending up in animals and even humans.

Plant Based plastics:

Some people opt for plant based plastic liners as an environmentally friendly alternative to the classic plastic. As the name suggests, these liners replace non-renewable petroleum with biomass like sugarcane and corn, in a bid to reduce harm to the environment.

Plant based plastics can be broken down further into two categories – non-biodegradable and biodegradable.  

Non-biodegradable plant-based plastics are produced in the same fashion as, and are intended to replicate, normal plastics. Plants are manipulated to give the plastic long shelf life and final product cannot be easily digested by living organisms. This makes them fit for the recycle bin but not for the compost.

Biodegradable liners:

Biodegradable plant-based plastics (the most common variety of biodegradable liners) are called so because they can be attacked and digested by living organisms in the early stages of the degradation process. This means that they complete the natural cycle – they are produced and assimilate smoothly back into nature.

Certification standards have been created to ensure that what we are buying is going to fully biodegrade within a specific timeframe. When looking to buy biodegradable liners it is very important that the product refers to a reliable standard such as AS 4736 or EN 13432.

Biodegradable liners can be broken down even further into two categories - commercially compostable and home compostable.

Commercially compostable liners

Many biodegradable liners require a very specific environment to decompose – oxygen, 60 degree temperatures and a perfect heat/moisture ratio found at a commercial composting site to be exact. These are called commercially compostable liners and should only be used if your waste is going to a commercial composting site. If you’re putting commercially compostable liners into landfill, then either a petroleum or a biodegradable liner would realistically be just as suitable and sustainable.

Home compostable liners

Home compostable liners can be broken down in with all the wormy goodness in your backyard compost bin. These are your most environmentally friendly option. You’ll need to check the liners refer to a certification standard okay for home compost though, such as AS 5810-2010.

So then we should use these liners for all waste streams, right? Well, not exactly. Landfills are very dark, non-oxygenated places, meaning that even compostable liners do not have the conditions needed to biodegrade properly. Over time, compostables in landfill produce methane which can be much more harmful to the environment than CO2 itself.

So what does this all mean?

The most sustainable way to use bin liners would be to use the home compostable variety, BUT to then remove the contents into the bin before waste collection and put your liner in with your home compost. But this isn’t always possible.

Start a conversation with your waste collection providers about what their bin liner policy is

If you wish to keep your waste continuously contained, or it’s not viable for you to go liner-less because of your waste collection provider, WeCompost - a New Zealand eco waste removal company dedicated to treating compost as a valuable resource - recommends using black liners for landfill, clear liners for recycling streams and home-compostable liners for organics.

This makes it easy for office cleaners and collectors to sort and ensures that compostable liners are not going into landfill, where they’ll most likely struggle to degrade in the conditions or just be ripped open.

You can also consider options for plant based, non-biodegradable liners - while they are still plastic, at least they are made from a renewable resource and are much less toxic in their production.

Finding the right bin liner doesn’t need to be complicated

If you do your research, make sure bin liner buzzwords are backed up by reliable certification standards, and discuss options with your waste removal contractors and cleaners, you’ll be well on track towards your sustainability goals.

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Method Making a Visible Difference in Kindergartens

Method recycling bins have been praised for instilling a consciousness around recycling in children at kindergarten. Beach Haven Kindergarten, an enviroschool with a heavy emphasis on sustainable habits, is using Method bins to teach children how to separate their waste at source and divert a great amount of landfill to compost and recycling.

Check out the article below to see how Beach Haven Kindergarten is using Method Bins to teach children how to look after our planet. 

 

READ ARTICLE

 

 

 

The Sydney Cricket Ground Goes Clean & Green with Method

How Method is simplifying corporate sustainability for an iconic Sydney sporting venue

 

One of the world’s most iconic sporting venues has plans to make their sporting precinct cleaner and greener than ever before, with the help of Method Recycling. Method’s most recent client, the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust and Allianz Stadium, host over “65 major sporting events every year, attracting close to two million fans through the gates. That equates to a lot of rubbish, food and glass that we have to manage,” said a SCG Trust spokesperson.

So far, SCG has installed Method Recycling Bins in their offices, members area and throughout the corporate suites, with the aim of engaging users to recycle, reduce the amount of waste going into landfill and ultimately, reduce carbon footprint.

With over 1,000 tonnes of waste generated annually, SCG’s current recycling rate stands at 65 per cent, but their efforts towards corporate sustainability don’t stop there. “We’ve set the bar at 75 per cent for next year with a long term target of over 90 percent for total resource recovery” said SCG spokesperson, William Konya.

Though originally designed with the commercial office market in mind, the flexibility of Method’s open plan recycling bins are proving to be incredibly effective in public and event spaces just like the SCG, as well as universities, schools, kindergartens and supermarkets. With features like the easily customisable design, the patented mechanism that locks and hides the plastic bin liner, and the connectors that lock the bins together to form a station, all combine to create a beautiful way to promote sustainability.

Steve and India at Method have spent three years crafting the perfect office recycling bin, with the purpose of simplifying the process of office recycling for clients like Sydney Cricket Ground Trust and Allianz Stadium. Looking toward the future of SCG and Allianz Stadium, William Konya says, “we’re committed to a sustainable future and this is a small step in the right direction.”  

Method Recycling will be showcasing some exciting NEW products at Total Facilities, from 29-30 March, at the ICC Sydney Darling Harbour, so please make sure you come down to meet the team at stand C4.

Elegant office waste recycling bins small part of Kathmandu sustainability strategy

Papa Kainga, Kathmandu Base Camp a five-star Green rated Building in Christchurch’s Innovation Precinct  

Papa Kainga, Kathmandu Base Camp a five-star Green rated Building in Christchurch’s Innovation Precinct  

Everyone has a part to play in waste recycling, rather than merely observing it,” says Oliver Milliner, Kathmandu Sustainability Coordinator.

“For our office-based staff, having slick looking easily identified bins encourages us all to think about how waste recycling works, and the small actions required to achieve it,” he says.

Kathmandu’s head office named Papa Kainga, a one year old five star green star rated building for efficiency and sustainability in Christchurch’s Innovation Precinct has installed Method Recycling’s 60 litre, 100% recyclable polypropylene bins. Three stations of three MR bins are strategically located on each of the headquarters’ three floors.

The colour-coordinated waste-stream bins are an aesthetically stylish way for Kathmandu staff to separate and sort paper, metals, glass, landfill and food scraps as the rubbish is created. In turn Method’s system makes it easy for cleaners to allocate the full bin liners to appropriate recycling streams.

Kathmandu’s adoption of Method’s New Zealand-made, modular system ties in directly with the sharemarket-listed company’s publicly stated and reported-against Sustainability Strategy.

Oliver Milliner a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) trained coordinator says the company works hard to continually reduce the social and environmental impacts of the manufacture, distribution and sale of its outdoor clothing and equipment.

It is the only Australasian company which backs these impacts by incorporating the Higgs Index. This is an apparel and footwear self-assessment standard for measuring environmental and social sustainability throughout the supply chain.

“Our sustainability strategy is the driver behind all the different areas of our business, and we use it across many different projects being carried out by our materials and projects teams,” says Oliver.

“Our annual Sustainability Report is investor facing, and communicates how we’re operating in those areas. It is also circulated widely within the business, and helps ensure that our strategy is used, assessed and incorporated across everything we do.”

He says that as an outdoors-oriented company, 

Kathmandu realises the importance of doing the best it possibly can to protect and enhance the environment in everything it does.

For example it ensures that cardboard packaging in its retail shops is recycled, while soft plastics such as bubble-wrap now joins a soft plastic recycling scheme to upcycled into the likes of park benches. Kathmandu is a member of the NZ Packaging Forum which aims to recycle and reuse glass, soft plastics and public place rubbish.

 
Method Office Recycling Station - out and proud as part of the communal workspace

Method Office Recycling Station - out and proud as part of the communal workspace

 

General waste bins ditched

When Kathmandu’s new office opened in early 2016, it originally had general waste bins, along with desk bins for individual workers.

The use of Method’s utility stations, including locations at each floor’s kitchen, means staff have to walk a small distance to sort their rubbish. “But it is not viewed as a huge problem,” says Oliver.

“It is all about engagement, awareness and communications. A few really passionate team members from our Customer Services team have really helped drive this awareness and reduction in the office. There a lot of education involved, a lot of internal communications. 

He says that Kathmandu is a member of the USA-based Outdoor Industry Association (which also has the likes of Patagonia, North Face and Colombia). This association meets twice-yearly to discuss, and share answers to the industry’s big issues. Oliver says Method’s answer to sorting office waste is elegant and easy - and will probably be mentioned at an upcoming association meeting.

“Method’s slick solution is part of our wider sustainability strategy and ethos,” he says.

“It enables us all to play a small role in reducing our individual footprint and living up to Kathmandu’s values.”

Method co-founder India Korner says Kathmandu’s use of its injection-moulded bins is a perfect example of an environmentally aware company making it possible for staff to do the right thing.

“The other advantage of our system is that in activity- based and collaborative workspaces such as Kathmandu’s, by taking away individual desk bins and enabling people to walk to our bins, you provide the opportunity for them to bump into each other,” she says. “That’s how new ideas are generated.”

Method’s bins also allow much more flexibility of design, and changing around of layout within an office. If special cabinetry needs to be built (which usually hides away other less attractive types of waste recycling bins), then any office changes are much more problematic says India. Method’s standalone bins (with lock together connectors) can adapt and grow with any office changes she says.

India says that Method’s bins are also liner bag agnostic, though colour coded liners (same at the bin lid) are available. No matter which liners are used, the patented mechanism which locks liners into place, and ensures no ugly liner overhang is another feature enjoyed by cleaners and staff alike.

She says Method’s system, developed using design-led principles, means no rubbish can get between the liner and the bin.

“We’ve made sure our system is infallible,” she says.

“It is good for Kathmandu , and good for us that we are able to help such a progressive company achieve its sustainability goals.”

Papa Kainga, 201 Madras Street, Christchurch, New Zealand

Papa Kainga, 201 Madras Street, Christchurch, New Zealand

2016 Westpac Business Growth Grant - Supreme Winner

The Westpac Business Growth Grants was set up in 2015 to help upcoming Kiwi businesses reach their potential by gifting them $40k cash and $10k to spend on advertising.

Applications were open to SMEs that had been operating successfully (with a turnover of anywhere up to $5 million) and have a plan to grow it. Over 430 applications came through, which the judges whittled down to 6, each of whom presented to a panel of industry experts.

We were announced the supreme winner of the Westpac Business Growth grant awards on the 14th September.

We were blown away with the award and will have a big impact on our business.

Impressed by Method’s strategic vision, governance structure, and clinical approach to their business development and the future
— Westpac's GM Corporate & Institutional Bank and head judge Karen Silk

Lendlease HQ - Tower Three Opening at Barangaroo South

We have been involved in one of the most amazing commercial property developments in Australia. It is a 300,000 SQM project with a possible 16,000 people working in the three tower blocks. Sustainability is a core value of the development being carbon positive, 6 green stars and having zero waste to landfill by 2020. Here is a link to some press about the opening and the video has a bin cameo.