ASPIRE has transitioned out of CSIRO’s Data61 and is scaling its operations nationally to better manage the 67 million tonnes of waste generated in Australia each year.

[CSIRO, Data 61 and sponsors logos and a circular recycle ASPIRE diagram and text appears: Aspire, To change the way we deal with waste]

[Image changes to show a full image of Sarah King standing in front of three digital screens and talking to the camera]

Sarah King: We have a major challenge facing us all and that is that we live in a throwaway society.

[Camera zooms in on Sarah King talking to the camera]

We take resources from the ground, we make products and we waste and we do all this whilst we live in a world of finite resources.

[Camera zooms in on Sarah King’s face as she talks to the camera]

So, perhaps it’s fitting that one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is to substantially reduce waste generation using the three Rs,

[Text appears: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle]

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

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And I’d like to tell you about a project, ASPIRE, that addresses this goal. But first, why is waste such a challenge? Well, first growth, increased population and affluence drive waste generation.

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The purchasing power of the middle class across the Asia Pacific region accounted for 23% of the global market in 2009.

[Image changes to show a chart displaying the size of the market counting up on the left-hand side of the screen and a world map on the right-hand side of the screen]

And if you look at this chart you can see that by 2030 Asia Pacific will account for 60% of the global market.

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Affluence drives waste generation.

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Secondly, perception. Australian SMEs or Small to Medium Enterprises send half of their waste straight to landfill. And the landfill option is just a default as most of the waste going to landfill is readily recyclable.

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The cost of recycling is often presented as a barrier. However, in Australia, we know that cost isn’t an issue because recycling or alternatives to landfill can be found for equivalent or cheaper prices than sending waste to landfill.

[Image changes to show a chart displaying a bar graph detailing waste streams sent to landfill and recycling]

Thirdly, opportunity. If you look at this chart you can see the waste resources for the commercial and industrial sector. The darker shade here is landfill. Many of these resources are recyclable. Look at office paper and cardboard. Yet we are still sending them to landfill. We know the problem with organics in landfill, that is really high here and look at the far right, unknown.

[Image changes to show Sarah King’s face as she talks to the camera]

We can’t manage what we don’t measure and it’s vitally important that we have mechanisms in place to quantify the unknown.

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So, waste is a problem now and it’s only going to get worse into the future.

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So how did our project come about? Well, let me tell you about my colleague Angela. She’s an Economic Development Officer at the City of Kingston in Melbourne

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and every day she works with business. She runs a sustainable business network where companies come together and they share information and business told Angela

[Text appears: Reduce their operating costs, Global competitiveness impacting profitability, Waste management costs increasing, Increasing pressure to prove sustainability credentials]

they need to reduce their operating costs, that global competitiveness was impacting their profitability, that waste management costs were increasing and that their customers, their suppliers and their employees were asking them about their sustainability credentials.

[Text appears: Business ready to embrace digital technology]

And this all came at a time when companies were increasingly ready to embrace digital technology.

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Angela came to me to discuss these problems at a time when I was exploring industrial symbiosis applications for the Melbourne region.

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Industrial symbiosis is where one company’s waste or by-product could be used as an input to another company and there’s many different global examples of industrial symbiosis such as Kellenberg in Denmark and industry need example, or Government led examples such as South Korea and China.

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And I was interested in how to implement a regional networked example using a combination of industry engagement and Government leadership. However, to identify potential connections between companies we need data.

[Text appears: What waste products do companies have? What are their resource needs?]

What wastes or by-products do companies have? And what are their resource needs?

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So, this is fundamentally an information challenge and a digital solution can help us.

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A digital solution helps us codify and manage data but we knew that a few previous examples of waste exchanges had failed. They’d been passive. Companies uploaded information to a website, waste information and waited for a company to give them a call.

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We wanted an active system where companies were provided with information on potential collaborations that was tailored to their specific needs.

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So, what did we do? The City of Kingston and CSIRO collaborated to secure a grant from the State Government of Victoria. We were joined by the City of Greater Dandenong, Knox and Hume Councils and also by some other networks and business partners.

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Our brief was to develop a proof of concept system to support time poor SMEs and it’s called ASPIRE

[Text appears: ASPIRE, Advisory System Process Innovation & Resource Exchange]

and this stands for Advisory System for Processing Innovation and Resource Exchange.

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How does it work? Well, companies register by entering their location, website and their contact details.

[Image changes to show the ASPIRE website and the webpage scrolls through]

They then enter input or output resources, such as resource type, quantity and frequency.

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We then use an algorithm to match them with other companies that can meet their needs. So, it’s kind of like a dating site for business where ASPIRE suggests a blind date but we don’t guarantee the marriage.

[Image changes to show outline images of a rubbish bin, a dollar sign and a building and text appears above and below outline images: Benefits so far after 12 transfers, 1000 tonnes of waste per annum diverted from landfill, $200,000 saved for business per annum, Over 100 companies]

The benefits so far from only 12 transfers, or new relationships between businesses, are over 1,000 tonnes of waste per annum diverted from landfill, over $200,000 saved for business per annum and our initial proof of concept target of securing 40 companies has been far exceeded and we now have over 100 companies working with us on ASPIRE.

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And importantly these benefits will compound over time. They’ll continue to grow and also a number of these transfers are ongoing. They’re not one off.

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A key part of our success is the business model. We know of a few projects that lacked longevity once Government funds ceased and we wanted lasting impact for ASPIRE. So, we devised a funding model to support our future independence.

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We work chiefly with networks, existing business networks as opposed to creating new networks. This means we increase the capability of our council facilitators, people like Angela and they become brokers for new industrial symbiosis relationships.

[Camera zooms in to show Sarah King talking to the camera]

We know that a digital solution on its’ own is likely to fail. We also need the business network. We need the face to face, personal interactions that come from Angela’s business network meetings to build trust, to support knowledge exchange and to power our digital solution.

[Camera zooms in to show Sarah King’s face as she talks to the camera]

As a facilitator for ASPIRE, Angela works in concert with the digital platform and supports the recruitment, use and follow-up of industrial symbiosis opportunities.

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So, what have we learnt along our journey? Well, first and foremost, it’s all about networks.

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The digital solution, the ASPIRE website, it’s great but it needs follow up and it benefits greatly from the networking opportunities provided by our four regional council partners. Secondly, Government involvement is important. The initial grant that we received, this was fundamental to our ability to build an innovative solution to the waste problem.

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Lastly, the municipalities in this project have been true innovators.

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They partnered with CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency and the lead partner on the grant, the City of Kingston. They accepted the risk that comes with managing a novel project, such as ASPIRE. We also worked with economic development teams within councils.

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So, ASPIRE is primarily an economic project, with environmental benefits, not the other way around.

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Our Council supported a radical innovation to enable sustainable economic development.

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ASPIRE is a niche level, small scale project but it’s scalable.

[Image changes to show Victoria on a map and then the camera zooms out to show the whole of Australia]

It’s scalable across the state of Victoria or indeed across Australia.

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It’s radical, as it’s aimed at disrupting the status quo of sending waste to landfill.

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We’re proud of our achievements so far with ASPIRE. The collaboration between CSIRO and the Cities of Kingston, Dandenong, Knox and Hume has been highly successful to date. And significantly, we’ve developed, not only a product, ASPIRE but also a process, a process for engaging business to reduce waste to landfill, reduce their costs and improve collaboration.

[Camera zooms in to show Sarah King talking to the camera]

ASPIRE will help Australia meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals to reduce waste generation. Thank you.

[Text appears: Presented by Sarah King]

[Text appears: Acknowledgements, CSIRO ASPIRE Team, Melanie Ayre – Project Leader, Sarah King – Senior Research Consultant, Alexander Krumpholz – Senior Research Engineer, Niru Sankaranarayanan – Software Engineer, Stuart Woodman – Software Engineer]

[Sponsors logos and text appears: Acknowledgements, City of Kingston, Angela Stubbs – Team Leader, Economic Development, Suzanne Ferguson – Manager, Economic Development]

[Text appears: Video produced by, Fletcher Woolard – Data 61, Contact for more information, aspire@csiro.au, http://aspire.com.au ]

[CSIRO logo and text appears: 2016]

The ASPIRE presentation :  Sustainable Development through Regional Networks – the case of ASPIRE to support industrial symbiosis for SMEs

ASPIRE (Advisory System for Processing, Innovation & Resource Exchange) has transitioned out of CSIRO’s Data61, the data and digital specialist arm of Australia’s national science agency, and is scaling its operations nationally to better manage the 67 million tonnes of waste generated in Australia each year.

Developed in 2015 by researchers from CSIRO, ASPIRE is an online marketplace that intelligently matches businesses with potential remanufacturers, purchasers or recyclers to find new purposes for waste materials working towards the circular economy for Australia.

Dr Melanie Ayre, research scientist at CSIRO’s Data61, said that since launching ASPIRE has diverted hundreds of different waste streams from landfill including batteries, e-waste, metals, organics, polystyrene, ferric chloride and timber pallets.

“Almost 80 per cent of Australia’s waste is generated through commercial, industrial, construction or demolition activities. We developed ASPIRE in response to rising costs of waste management, and to redirect waste to more productive uses,” Dr Ayre said.

Cameron McKenzie , ASPIRE’s newly appointed CEO, said the online marketplace has seen an impressive uptake amongst businesses, state governments and local councils in Victoria, but that a national network was pivotal in tackling the widespread waste crisis.

“Around 300 businesses are using ASPIRE, which has collectively saved $207,000 in waste disposal and material costs. This has also resulted in the reduction CO2 emissions and water through reuse and diversion from landfill,” Mr McKenzie said.

“While we’ve had strong traction in Victoria, we’re scaling ASPIRE nationally to address the increasing need for a way to manage Australia’s growing waste and recycling issues.”

According to the 2018 National Waste Policy, a hypothetical five per cent improvement in efficient use of materials across the Australian economy could benefit Australia’s GDP by as much as $24 billion.

The ASPIRE marketplace combines CSIRO’s domain expertise in manufacturing with the deep technology capabilities of Data61.

ASPIRE was recently named as one of five start-ups awarded a place in the Swinburne Innovation Precinct’s Accelerator Program , an intensive program supporting start-ups to gain early traction in their markets.

It was also named a semi- finalist in the 2019 Australian Technologies Competition and has received support from CSIRO's ON Accelerator program.

For more information, visit www.aspiresme.com

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