31 March 2020
3 min read

An economy based on taking, using and dumping resources just isn’t sustainable. That’s why we invest in companies like Bingo Industries that are helping to build a circular economy based on the continuous reuse of resources.

Our disposable lifestyle is burying us in waste and damaging both our planet and our health. Landfill leaches toxic chemicals into the earth and produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Meanwhile, plastic debris injures and kills marine species, impacting the food chain and the health of our oceans. 

One of the ways we can tackle our waste problem is by creating a circular economy. So how would that work, exactly?

What a circular economy looks like

Credit: futureofsourcing.com

Much of our current economy follows a linear ‘make, use and dispose’ model. After products are made from new resources they’re sold, used and then dumped into landfill. The fast-fashion business model is a prime example: cheap clothing made from oil-derived polyester and water-guzzling cotton is churned out, worn a few times and then thrown away – with much of it ending up in landfill.

In contrast, a circular economy is designed to be regenerative. It begins by taking waste and pollution out of the equation wherever possible. This could mean making products out of recycled or salvaged materials, or designing products with parts that can be replaced or repaired. 

A circular economy aims to continually reuse products and materials – for example, by recycling steel scraps to make construction materials, furniture and appliances. It also works to regenerate natural systems through activities like composting food scraps so nutrients can return to the soil, or by using renewable energy as opposed to fossil fuels. 

Adopting the principles of a circular economy isn’t only better for our environment and health – it also makes good economic sense. Companies can benefit from this model by using recycled resources and finding new opportunities to profit by using recycled goods. A circular economy can be good for consumers too, potentially boosting their disposable income by lowering their consumption and unnecessary spending. And all of this in turn can reduce our greenhouse gases.

Bingo Industries: committed to recycling

Building materials make up a huge part of Australia’s waste. The latest ABS figures reveal that construction and demolition produced 20.4 million tonnes (Mt), or almost 30%, of Australia’s total waste in 2017. This was considerably more than waste from households (13.8 Mt), electricity, gas and waste services (12.7 Mt) and manufacturing (10.8 Mt). But the good news is, much of this material – like wood, timber, concrete, plastics, metals and cardboard – can be recycled and reused. 

One of the businesses we invest in, Bingo Industries, is a recycling and resource management company that’s helping divert building waste from landfill by recycling it. The company’s vision is to push for a waste-free Australia through recycling, investing in appropriate technology and using ongoing innovation.

Bingo is involved across the whole waste management supply chain. First, it hires out and delivers skip bins to businesses and individuals across Victoria and New South Wales. Once the skips are full, Bingo collects them and delivers the waste to one of its 13 recycling centres. As well as construction and demolition waste, Bingo’s bins can be used for green waste, household items, plastics, furniture and whitegoods.

Bingo uses an independent auditor, Arcadis, to check its resource recovery rates. In the 2018 financial year, the company achieved an average recovery rate of 77% across its recycling centres – with its centre in Minto, NSW achieving 85%.  The company wants to lift this figure even higher in the future.

How we assess sustainability

Australian Ethical assesses all our investments against our Ethical Charter to ensure they align with our principles. Bingo receive a strong positive assessment– especially in the way it aligns with our principle of reducing wasteful or polluting practices.

Bingo is guided by its Sustainability Framework which aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Its framework sets out its approach to sustainability through three lenses: the environment, the community and the business. For example, the company uses its framework to manage and measure:

  • The impact of its operations on the environment and resources
  • How it can achieve energy self-sufficiency
  • Its contribution to climate change
  • How to assess and prepare for climate-related risks 

On a practical level, the business is investigating the fuel consumption of its truck fleet and has installed solar panels at its head office and its recycling facilities in Auburn and Mortdale. It’s also developing a Recycling Ecology Park at Eastern Creek in NSW. The park, which will manufacture recycled products from timber, organics, brick, concrete and scrap steel, will be powered by 100% renewable energy drawn from rooftop solar panels, batteries and landfill gas.

Bingo is also a primary supporter of Planet Ark’s Circular Economy Hub, which is due to launch in 2020.

Investing for a circular economy

Bingo is just one of the many companies that we are investing in today to help the transition to a low-emission sustainable future. You can become part of the solution by investing with Australian Ethical Super and Managed Funds today.

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