Lake Macquarie firm among beneficiaries of EPA programs offering $7m in grants for recycling and waste initiatives

NEW USE: Samantha Cross, of Cross Connections Consulting, which helps businesses and councils to facilitate the processing of plastic waste into products such as park benches. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
NEW USE: Samantha Cross, of Cross Connections Consulting, which helps businesses and councils to facilitate the processing of plastic waste into products such as park benches. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

A LAKE Macqurie firm has benefitted from NSW Environment Protection Authority programs offering more than $7 million in grants to boost NSW recycling rates and encourage innovation in the waste industry.

Cross Connections Consulting, at Warners Bay, is an appointed facilitator under the NSW EPA-funded Circulate Program.

Circulate grants are awarded to projects that prolong the life of resources or give materials a second life, keeping them out of landfill by scouting out opportunities for these materials to be reused in industrial or construction processes.

Some $1.2 million is available under this program until 2021, with individual grants of up to $150,000 available.

Under the Circulate program, Cross Connections Consulting received $150,000 to help facilitate the reprocessing of soft-plastic waste from local businesses into park benches, road base, garden beds, and fencing.

"And the good thing is, these materials can be infinitely recycled," Cross Connections Consulting director Samantha Cross said.

As a facilitator of the Circulate program, Cross Connections Consulting collaborates with other businesses to achieve competitiveness and improved bottom lines through better environmental practices.

It's all about creating business opportunities in the 'circular economy'.

Last week, infrastructure company Downer opened a state-of-the-art asphalt facility in Teralba.

The facility produces Reconophalt, an innovative asphalt product containing a high recycled content including soft plastics collected through Cross Connections Consulting's 'Plastic Police' program.

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Under the EPA's Product Improvement Program, $6.3 million is available through grants of up to $1 million each, to fund innovative projects to provide new recycling solutions via infrastructure or research and development.

The EPA's Product Improvement Program and Circulate grant programs are currently open to applications.

"These grants can help reshape our waste and recycling industry in NSW, which is undergoing significant change," the EPA's waste operations and programs executive director, Carmen Dwyer, said.

"Already previous grant recipients have diverted thousands of tonnes of waste from landfill and are continuing to take major strides forward in reshaping the way we deal with waste.

"We're seeing crushed glass used to make roads, industrial plastic wrap made into park benches, and broken and discarded furniture made into new office furniture.

"These grants help to ensure NSW can continue to achieve strong results when it comes to reducing waste, reusing materials and recycling."

Investing in recycling stimulated local remanufacturing capacity and generated new industries and jobs, Ms Dwyer said.

Both the Product Improvement Program and Circulate grants are funded through the NSW Government's Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, run by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

More information, including details on how to apply, is available at epa.nsw.gov.au/working-together/grants

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