Kiama Council with Innovative New Waste Minimisation System

Kiama Municipal Council ‘Walks the Talk’ & Increases its Own Recycling by 50%

Kiama Council Significantly Reduces Cleaning Times with Innovative New Waste Minimisation System

A reduction in cleaning time of forty minutes each day has been an unforseen and significant benefit resulting from the installation of an innovative at-source recycling system at Kiama Municipal Council recently.


According to the instigator of the system at Kiama, Waste Minimisation Officer Josephine St John, the initial motivation in implementing the unique system was to ensure Council leads by example and ‘walks the walk’ that it ‘talks’ to residents and local business about the need to reduce waste and recycle more efficiently.

“Part of my role is education about responsible waste disposal, so it is very important that we lead by example and take responsibility for our own system of waste minimisation,” she said.

A recent redesign to an open plan office layout in Kiama’s main administration building brought a great opportunity to maximise the effectiveness of their recycling and waste minimisation system within the building. 


Previously their office recycling had been handled by a very cumbersome and slightly impractical system of trays and separate bins under and on top of the desk, which did not work easily and was quite unsightly, with the result that it was not as effectively taken up as it could have been.


So Josephine went on a search for a more effective system and after reading an article in a waste industry journal, approached Australian company Paper To Paper about their unique at-source recycling system.


The Paper To Paper 3 in 1 bin fits neatly under an office desk and separates out paper which can be recycled back into office paper in one compartment; other recyclables such as glass drink bottles and plastic in another; as well as non-recyclable materials such as glad wrap, straws, or finished biros into a neat basket attached to the side.


One of the most important factors here is that the recycled office paper doesn’t get co-mingled with other lower grade papers such as cardboard in the big all in one recycling skip, and thus can be recycled back into clean white office paper rather than being ‘down cycled’ to cardboard as is most common. In fact, the Paper To Paper receptacle is the only system on the market that recycles at-source in such a way.


In the new office layout, space was crucial.  The bins needed to be compact and easy to use and the stylish Paper To Paper bins fitted seamlessly under each desk. 


The system was installed for all staff in the Kiama Administration building in January this year.  Josephine undertook a thorough internal communications program so that each staff member was aware of their responsibilities regarding the new system, including a one page description of what should go into each section of the 3 in 1 receptacle to each staff member. 


Each staff member is responsible for emptying the recycled office paper compartment into one of the 80 litre paper bins, as well as the recycling compartment e.g. glass, tetra packs or anything with the recycle symbol, into the recycling bin in the lunch room.


The cleaners, who are Council employees not contractors, are responsible for emptying the hanging basket (non-recyclable materials) and replacing the compostable bin liner every day. As a back up at the end of the week, the cleaners check the bins to ensure they are properly cleared so the office is left completely clean over the weekend.


The cleaners (and management!) are delighted with the 40 - 60 minute reduction in their cleaning time which enables to perform other duties as part of their job redesign. It has also led to improved efficiency and effectiveness of the cleaning service.


Most importantly, according to Josephine, the Paper To Paper system has led to significant increases in rates of recycling, which was the primary motivation for the implementation in the first place.


Wall posters are prominent in each section of the building, outlining what can and can’t be recycled in each of the 3 compartments of the Paper To Paper bin.


The seven 120 litre bins which were previously scattered throughout the building for collection of recyclable paper were replaced by ten smaller 80 litre bins. This weight reduction made it much safer and easier for the cleaners to remove the bins to the main skip bins in the outside storage facility, resulting in an additional bonus in significant reduction in the OHS risk. 


The installation of ramps to wheel the bins to the storage facility rather than having to take them down steps, improved the OH&S factors further.  This ramp also benefits other staff when they take office equipment etc out to the storage facility.

Josephine said that Paper To Paper made some slight design changes to the bins to fit in with the needs of Kiama, such as changing the colour of the liner bin to ‘recycle’ yellow.  “Paper To Paper were very accommodating and flexible so that the system could be customised to our needs,” she said. 


“At this stage 100 of our 187 indoor staff have the 3-in-1 receptacle in place. The other 87 will be distributed shortly,” she said.

Josephine has designed an incentive scheme to encourage staff in the take-up of the new system. A continuous review will be carried out and finalised every six months. The department deemed to be the best waste managers will be rewarded with a $50 voucher to buy morning tea!