Hendrik van Rhijn is a long-term client of Imagine Accounting. Earlier this year in conjunction with the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) he launched Milk Bottle Collective. We spoke with Hendrik to find out more about his exciting initiative
What does the Milk Bottle Collective (MBC) do?
MBC collects 2 litre plastic milk bottles from cafés. We aim to close the circle and use the material again for bottles. We advocate Take Back and Make Back. The cafés are an interesting and very visible group of customers, going through huge amounts of milk each day. The plastic is taken to a state-of-the-art recycling plant in Narrabri (northern NSW). The EPA in NSW supports our initiative, as well as a number of industry players. We are in contact with UNSW and UTS re technical support and Circular Economy promotion.
What inspired you to start this?
In 2002 we arrived in Australia with our young family and set up a business in glass recycling from pubs and clubs using a crusher. This business had all the ingredients I love about being in this country: innovative, down to earth, lots of opportunities. When it was sold in 2016 with the arrival of the deposit scheme in NSW, I branched out in other areas using balers from a Swedish brand ORWAK. The daily routine of getting a coffee and seeing all these bulky, light bottles go to waste seemed like an opportunity too good to miss.
Why should people get involved?
Less than 15% of plastics is recycled in Australia. We all know about the dramatic scenes on War on Waste exposing the practice of shipping recyclables overseas. Other images of oceans and beaches full of plastic call for action. In addition to this it just makes economic sense to re-use the material: HDPE plastic is worth hundreds of dollars per tonne. You have to be smart about compacting and transporting it to avoid unnecessary cost. All it takes is a small change in routines, then it will save money and improve the environment.
How has Imagine Accounting helped your journey?
Peter Caunt and the team have been great in helping me to sustain and grow a small business as a foreigner in this country. Over the years I’ve seen Imagine evolve as well – for example by hiring great people – and I’ve always had the feeling we can communicate easily and on the same level.
What are your goals for the Milk Bottle Collective?
Next year we hope to have 40 collection spots, moving 15-20 tonnes per month. In the area of Make Back we hope to prove 30% recycled content in bottles is feasible. After that: the sky is the limit. The milk bottles could be just a test case for other similar programs.
How can people join the Milk Bottle Collective?
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on LinkedIn.