The AZWAP Journey So Far

Experiments

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Despite recently working from home, the Metric Labs team is still determined to minimise our waste. We’ve called it ‘Going AZWAP’, or ‘as zero waste as possible’.  We posted a blog about it last year and just before we left the office, we reflected back on the progress we’ve made so far. Part of the 🌱journey🌱 has been learning about not only our individual habits but also looking into how institutions and the businesses we rely on also get rid of waste.

Our Individual Habits

It’s been a wild six months of re-training ourselves to waste less, re-use more and just consume less garbage in general. Here’s a personal reflection from some of our colleagues on the journey so far:

  • Santi:
    “It’s hard for us to realise what we really need in this society we are living in. The only change I did towards the AZWAP rubbish challenge is to keep tight to essentials, bring my own stuff, choose compostables and recyclables and always ask myself if “is there a more sustainable choice out there?””
  • Gary:
    “I need to reduce the number of coffee cups I use (I try to remember to bring my keepcup) and I will try to have less chocolates.”
  • Katie:
    “My waste this past quarter was predominantly individual tea wrappers and in particular, Twinings wrappers which are a weird hybrid of paper and plastic that can’t be recycled. The obvious solution would be to buy loose leaf tea and compost the tea leaves once used, which would save the individual wrappers and all the other packaging that goes into creating a single tea bag. I guess I’ll be bringing in my teapot…”
  • Vincent:
    “The challenge I faced most was using single-use plastic containers when buying takeaway lunch. Since the majority of the food is oily, the containers tend to become hard to clean and recycle and may end up in a landfill. I am yet to find a viable solution but for the time being I try and wash the container and have it used for composting in the office. This helps with reuse of the single-use plastic but after composting the container would end up in a landfill. I am yet to find a viable solution since I love my Thai takeaway and can’t give it up at the moment :(“

What else are we doing?

We’ve got reusable coffee cups, we compost our office food scraps at a local community garden’s compost bin and we take our soft plastics to Coles to be recycled through their partnership with REDcycle.

It’s all very good to keep buying whatever you buy, return the soft plastic to Coles or chuck endless pieces of single use plastic packaging into the recycling, and feel like you’ve done your bit and are now an exemplar of environmental consciousness. Sadly, this isn’t enough.

We decline the plastic cutlery when we get takeaway, BYOB (bowl) to nearby eateries (and receive a discount!) and have also made an effort to bring more food in.

Where does our waste go?

What about the bits and pieces of plastic we can’t avoid though, like yoghurt containers? Time to investigate what happens after we leave our recycling and waste with Coles and North Sydney Council:

  • Coles – the same Coles that routinely offers plastic mini-collectables with $30 sales and sells minis-related paraphernalia – considers sustainability at the core of its corporate responsibility practices. It’s a bit of a greenwash, let’s not deny that, but Coles does offer bins in its stores which send soft plastics to REDCycle which then gives them to Replas to make the contents – from cereal box liners to biscuit wrappers – into new products. While the recurring Minis promotion ostensibly goes against Coles’ supposed aim to lessen its environmental impact, at least REDCycle provides some form of compensation and the public one (free!) way of ensuring our waste doesn’t go straight to landfill.
  • North Sydney Council’s general waste goes to Suez Artarmon Resource Recovery Centre which then bulks it up and sends it to Suez Lucas Heights Landfill, which ‘helps divert organics from going to landfill by converting it into high-quality composts and soil conditioners’. 

Funnily enough, since starting AZWAP, we’ve had very little in the general waste bin, aside from meat scraps or dirty tissues. These go into general waste, as they wouldn’t fare too well in our individual garbage jars, which are reserved for non-disposable waste only. The main concern is reducing our single-use plastic in the first place, as recycle is the lowest in the ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’ mantra and just because REDCycle exists doesn’t mean we should consider it the answer to our plastic-(ab)using ways.

The challenge going forward will be taking the lessons that we’ve learned from our office office and bringing them with us to our home office. While many of the same ideas still apply, we’re always tweaking our processes and learning what goes where. So if you have any suggestions for decreasing waste, let us know!

If you’d like to read more about the ways you can reduce your waste, you can read our AZWAP Guide here.

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