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How to establish an EPS recycling system

This online guide provides overview of the complete Guide to setting up Expanded Polystrene Recycling. The guide will assist you to develop a business case, plan for and implement an EPS recycling service. Key links, resources and tools are linked throughout the online guide and the full guide.

NSW EPA EPS Recycling Pilot Program

The NSW EPA EPS Recycling Pilot Program aimed to support and sustain an increase in EPS recycling by 59,000m3 on an annual basis by providing funding for to 18 organisations in NSW to enable them to implement expanded polystyrene (EPS) recycling facilities and infrastructure. A second project sought to develop, deliver and evaluate a range of communications and marketing tools and resources specific to EPS recycling for the grant recipients.

Results were achieved by:

  1. Providing funding for EPS recycling infrastructure to 18 organisations in NSW
  2. Engaging with grant recipients, industry partners and the NSW EPA to develop a suite of marketing, communications and education materials to support raising awareness of availability of services and driving supply of EPS
  3. Liaising with grant recipients as they developed and delivered locally-relevant marketing and education programs
  4. Action research to evaluate the Pilot Program based on a Project Logic model

GUIDE TO ESTABLISHING EPS RECYCLING

1STEP 1 – RESEARCH

Initial research will allow you to think through the answers to some key questions as you get started on your journey into EPS recycling. It will help you determine if there is an opportunity for your business or organisation to be involved in EPS recycling.

You can make a ‘preliminary’ assessment of whether your engagement in EPS recycling is necessary and/or advantageous to your organisation: necessary if you have a substantial need to reduce the costs of EPS going to landfill, with its related financial and space implications; and advantageous because involvement in a flourishing EPS recycling program might provide financial, community and/or environmental benefits that align with your core business.

Read more about ‘necessary’ and ‘advantageous’ in the case studies from Sydney Fish Markets and HandyBin Waste Services

Things to consider:

  1. Is there a need for you to consider EPS in your business? What is the need? Can you document evidence of the need?
  2. How closely does the need to consider EPS recycling relate to the core business of your company/organisation?
  3. Is there a market for EPS in your area? Do you have a ready supply of EPS (which might currently be going to landfill) which could be recycled? How easy or challenging is it to get a supply in viable quantity? What are your likely sources of EPS? Is there anyone already collecting EPS from the area in which you are interested?
  4. Do you estimate this amount as more than 10 tonnes of EPS per annum? Can you sell sufficient EPS to drive an optimal level of supply? Will your involvement be financially viable? How will you judge viability?

Developing a business case

Creating a business case involves developing building on your preliminary research to develop a semi-formal or formal document outlining the business rationale or justification for proceeding with a project.

The business case usually provides critical information which allows key decision makers to make an informed decision about the proposed project. The purpose of the business case is to document the pros and cons, so the project ‘sells’ itself to those who may ultimately have to approve the project.

Your business case should:

  1. clarify the reasons why the project is needed (financial, environmental and human e.g. community pressures)
  2. outline the equipment and resources that will be required (with pros and cons of each)
  3. provide an estimate of the financial position of the project (i.e. whether it is estimated that it will run a profit/loss/or break even)
  4. describe the financial and staffing resources that will be required (from within the organisation and from other sources such as grants)
  5. identify the principal risks (both internal and external) that will need to be addressed before commencing the project.

Resources

  1. Business case template
  2. ‘Worked example’ of the business case template
  3. Financial modelling calculator and eps recycling financial modelling guidance page

2 STEP 2 – PLANNING

When you reach this step, you will have prepared a business case, had it approved by management and will be ready to start planning your project. Step 2 – planning requires you to think strategically about your project as you use our templates to develop a comprehensive plan.

The Guide provides a series of key questions, linked to the Planning Template which you can work through to plan your project – once you fill in the template, you will have your plan.

The planning template includes:

  • An easy to use table with a step-by-step summary of the key tasks
  • Space to detail responsibilities and timelines
  • A section on Communications, Marketing and Education

A range of resources, tools and materials were developed during the Pilot Program. These are made available to help you develop both an effective Project Plan and a Communications and Education Action Plan.

Resources

  1. Barriers and strategies to EPS recycling
  2. Project plan template
  3. ‘Worked example’ of the project plan template
  4. Communications and education action plan 
  5. ‘Worked example’ of the communications and education action plan 
  6. Communications and education artwork

3STEP 3 – IMPLEMENTATION

Step 3 – implementation involves enacting your plan to deliver the EPS Project you developed at step 2. We assume at this point that you have undertaken your research, prepared a business case, developed a plan, received approval to go ahead and are now ready to get started.

It is important to ensure your organisations management team are committed to the project – this will make things easier as you go along, particularly in terms of gathering stakeholder support and dealing with any issues that may arise. During the Pilot Program it was ‘passion and commitment’ for EPS recycling from management that became key driver in successful programs.

Implementing an EPS Recycling System involves:

  1. Liaising with key stakeholders continually from commencement
  2. Using the project plan as a guide to managing and delivering the project
  3. Launching the EPS recycling system and achieving ‘positive PR’
  4. Dealing with the unexpected

The full guide provides advice about choosing the right compactor, negotiating with buyers of EPS, monitoring what happens when material starts coming in, keeping an eye on things, thinking about environmental management systems and adjusting and changing as you go.

There were many learnings from the Pilot Program which can help ‘smooth the way’ and support you to avoid the unexpected. These learnings are provided throughout the full guide, and have informed the development of supporting resources. As well, four of the pilot program grant recipients provided in-depth information and advice through case studies.

Resources

  1. Case studies: Sydney Fish Markets, HandyBin Waste Services, Queensland Logistics Services, Challenge Disability Services.

4 STEP 4 – REVIEW

Step 4 – review provides the background to enable you to effectively plan to monitor and evaluate your project – and undertake this monitoring and evaluation.

Once you have an EPS Recycling Project happening, it is time to turn your attention to identifying whether it is working as it was intended to work.

This section of the Guide discusses monitoring, evaluation, reporting and continuous improvement.

Monitoring involves ollecting and analysing information along the way to tell you how the project is travelling.

Evaluation is the process by which we judge the worth or value of a project. What evidence is there that its outcomes have been achieved?

Reporting is about providing information to key people about the progress and/or results of a project.

Continuous improvement means that the project is constantly under review and that it will be enhanced as needed to ensure it continues to meet its objectives and aims.

For you to deliver an effective project, monitoring and evaluation:

  1. are integral components – particularly because EPS recycling is an emerging industry, so you will be learning as you go.
  2. will help you identify whether your project is working – you need to assess its impact, appropriateness and efficiency of your project.
  3. are essential to prove the credibility of your project, its business case and your professional credibility
  4. guide the development and implementation of further program-level and investment-level planning, as well as allowing you to tweak the current project
  5. utilises data that is relatively easy to collect and turn into evidence.

Checklist for evaluation

Throughout this step, the guide works on walking you through the following checklist:

  1. What outcomes (targets) are you trying to achieve?
  2. Who has the information you need to prove you are running an effective project?
  3. Are you able to get the information that you need to prove whether you have achieved your intended outcomes? This information might be about tonnages, it might be dollars, it might be about volume of EPS, or it might be about community behaviour.
  4. How are you getting the information and is it flowing in regularly?
  5. What are you going to do with the information? Who are you reporting to and how?

The Full Guide provides you with some in-depth information about monitoring and evaluation to support you in developing a realistic, manageable and effective monitoring and evaluation system.

Resources

  1. Some help with Monitoring and Evaluation
  2. Report: Does your project make a difference? 
  3. Article: Telling People Good News – Grahame Collier – WME Magazine
  4. Article Everyone says it is great, but is it really working? – Grahame Collier – WME Magazine
  5. PDF: The complete How to guide: A guide to setting up Expanded Polystyrene Recycling

DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCES

Download one of the Case Studies on introducing EPS Recycling

PDF file

Project-Case-Study

Challenge Community Services

PDF File

Project-Case-Study

Great Lakes Council

PDF File

Project-Case-Study

HandyBin Waste Services

PDF File

Project-Case-Study

Penrith City Council

PDF File

Project-Case-Study

Shoalhaven Council

PDF File

Project-Case-Study

Sydney Fish Markets

PDF Guide

Full-How-To-Guide

Download a complete copy of the ‘Guide to Establishing EPS Recycling’

Zip file

Zip-File

Download the resources including the Business Case Financial Tools and Templates and Project Planning Templates. This file includes worked examples of each.

Zip file

Zip-File

Download a ZIP file containing artwork and imagery to assist with designing marketing and communications material to support your introduction of EPS recycling. This work by NSW EPA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

ABOUT THE GUIDE

This guide ws developed, designed and written by the Authors in collaboration with the NSW EPA, following extensive action research during the NSW EPA EPS Recycling Pilot Program in 2012-2013. The information in the Guide was written late in 2013 and early 2014. The authors designers and publishers accept no respoonsibility for omissions, exclusions, incorrect information contained in the guide or any of the supporting documents which may subsequently be found to be out of date. The information in the guide should not be taken as advice, and readers/users of the guide sould undertake their own research and seek their own counsel regarding any decision that may be made a as result of following the guidelines contained within.

Project partners

The project was administered by NSW EPA in conjunction with the Australian Packaging Covenant. Marketing, communications and education program development and project evaluation supported by Pat Armstrong Consulting, T Issues Consultancy and Mesch Engagement in 2012-2013.

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