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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Heritage Industries
Cleaner Production - Creating a Recycling Loop

Heritage Industries has successfully found local markets for shavings, sawdust and off-cuts from its timber processing activities. Besides gaining revenue and saving significant disposal  costs, it helped create a small 'industrial ecosystem' where the outputs from one process are inputs for another. Wood shavings and sawdust are sold to a local duck farm which uses the material for bedding and nesting. When turned over, the bedding material and duck manure are sold on to local vineyards for use as fertiliser. Duck farm semi-trailers deliver the fertiliser when returning to Heritage for shavings and sawdust, so minimising empty journeys. Total annual benefits for Heritage have been around $50,000 a year for no capital outlay.

Background

Heritage Industries Inc. is a non-profit organisation established in Mount Gambier in 1967 to provide supported training and employment opportunities for people with varying disabilities. 

After a number of moves it became established at its present site since 1977 and has focused mainly on activities associated with the timber industry. Currently the core commercial business activity is contract moulding, fault grading and docking of timber for a number of customers in and around the Limestone Coast region. It also produces timber products and packaging and carries out screen printing. 

Timber products include specialty presentation boxes for the cosmetic, pottery and floral industries. Made to customer specifications from raw pine, they can be stained in three different colours and screen printed on the timber or acrylic lid. Timber packaging includes pallets, timber bins and plywood shipping boxes, all made to order for a variety of customers and products, including agricultural produce, seeds, commercial laundries and industrial components. Screen printing is carried out to order for a variety of purposes on a variety of surfaces including T-shirts, stickers, sashes, ribbons, pennants, patches, small signs and bannerettes.

The organisation now employees seventy people and has established a reputation for quality and service. It is committed to environmental responsibility and especially to minimising waste. Significant waste quantities and costs of disposal led to its seeking a solution.

Process and activities

Operations for the core timber processing activities are as follows:

The packaging and box-making processes involve cutting, assembling and finishing various grades of timber and plywood. These processes generate some additional sawdust and offcuts and plastic packaging waste.

Various production and non-production materials are used, including paints and other coatings for some timber products, inks and solvents for screen printing, and oils for machinery. These generate container and other waste.

Electricity is used for machinery, lighting and general purposes. 

Cleaner production initiatives

The various processes generate significant waste - around 40m a day of timber waste alone. Previously all steel strapping, plastics, timber off-cuts and shavings went to landfill at an annual cost of over $50,000 a year. In 1998 an investigation was carried out into reducing how waste and disposal costs could be reduced and more value gained from the timber waste. Resulting waste minimisation and recycling initiatives have been as follows:

The bedding and nesting material is turned over on a regular basis at the duck farm and, with the manure, forms the basis for a fertiliser sold in various quantities up to semi-trailer loads to various types of growers, especially vineyards. The semi-trailers used for collecting the shavings and sawdust are also used  for delivering fertiliser. The duck farm bags some of the material as 'duck poo' but sells most in bulk to local vineyards. Since these vineyards are on the way back from the duck farm to Heritage for shavings collections, empty running is minimised.

Benefits

Waste minimisation initiatives have achieved a 15%  reduction in landfilled volume and a net benefit of about $7,000 a year in collection and disposal costs. Sales revenues from finding markets for recyclable materials is $40,000-45,000 a year, giving a total benefit of $47,000-52,000 a year for no capital outlay.

In finding a buyer for its shavings and sawdust, Heritage helped initiate an example of 'industrial ecology' where the wastes from one activity assist another, and form a chain of mutual benefits.  There are financial benefits for both Heritage and the duck farm. There are also other mutual benefits, especially being respectively a regular supplier and regular customer, linked to local vineyards which complete the 'triangle' of transportation and materials flow.

Cleaner production incentives

Heritage was motivated by its commitment to quality and environmental improvement, as well as recognising the potential for cost savings.

Barriers

No significant barriers were encountered other than,  in a rural situation where personal connections are especially important, ensuring that waste transactions are made on a commercial basis rather than based on custom or favour.

Further developments

Heritage is continuing to look for ways of reducing waste and waste cost and gaining revenue. Since the duck farm semi-trailers are already coming in Heritage's direction carrying fertiliser, Heritage is considering setting up a bagging operation.

As an industrial user with energy costs of $55-60,000, Heritage will be exposed to changes in the energy market which are likely to increase costs significantly. It therefore intends to undertake an energy review and develop plans for energy saving.

Contact

Jim Stevenson, Manager
Heritage Industries Inc
Attamurra Road
PO Box 802
Mount Gambier SA 5290
Ph: 61 8 8725 6088
Fax: 61 8 8723 1044
 
Date of implementation: 1998-2001.
Date of further initiatives: Ongoing.
Case study prepared: June 2001 by Centre of Excellence in Cleaner Production, Curtin University of Technology, based on initial work by South Australia EPA, through its Small Business Eco-Efficiency Training Program.
Date last modified: July 2001.