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Attracting both attention and recognition are a number of projects taking a more sustainable approach to waste management, recycling and upcycling in the Ultimo-Pyrmont (UP) precinct of Sydney.

The Green Globe Awards, run by the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH), recently shortlisted a number of projects, including some from participants in the Smart Locale project.

Facilitated by the Total Environment Centre, Smart Locale’s mission is to accelerate the transformation of the UP local economy into an internationally recognised showplace for smart, safe, sustainable living by 2020.

One of the finalists in the Waste & Recycling category of the Green Globe Awards was a joint entry from Edge Environment and the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP), for waste diversion from office strip-out.

Breaking new ground, the initiative of Edge Environment under the NSW’s Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) Waste Less Recycle More initiative, managed to make a successful business case for the diversion of office defit materials from landfill.

Known as the Sydney Industrial Ecology Network, the initiative is now in the process of evolution and an announcement by the EPA of its future is expected by the end of this year.

One of the major partners with the SIEN was the BBP, a collaboration between Sydney’s major commercial landlords. In one pilot case, a waste diversion of 61 per cent was achieved in a large office strip-out at Governor Macquarie Tower. More than eight tonnes of furniture was removed for re-use by Good360 (an organisation which provides charities with access to vital corporate product donations) and over 530 tonnes of material recycled. Following this success, an industry toolkit was developed. Together with the BBP’s work on development of model leases and contracts to optimise resource recovery from office strip-outs, new industry precedents and benchmarks are being set in resource recovery and re-use.

Edge Environment also facilitated materials diversion from the strip-out of the Tabcorp building in Harris Street, Ultimo, earlier this year.

Again, working with Good360 and other agencies, Blake Lindley from Edge Environment confirmed they were able to “re-home” a large amount of furniture within a short timeframe.

He said while they considered inviting the general public to re-purpose material from the Tabcorp building, it wasn’t possible in this instance due to accessibility and insurance issues.

Francois McHardy from Good360 said the organisation’s focus is “keeping material out of landfill and getting material to parties who need it”.

Describing the Tabcorp building as a “rabbit warren” he said more than 53 tonnes of material was re-purposed which could roughly represent about one-third of the furniture and other items that were spread across the four floors of the building.

“The landlord had engaged a project management company for the defit,” said McHardy. “They were very helpful and it’s really important when you do these things to have people buy in… to get rid of as much material beforehand which it’s easy to build a business case for”.

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