HK Businesses Go Circular Via A Digital Marketplace

By Tamanna Wadhwani 18 June, 2021

Hear from Wadhwani how an online platform like ASPIRE can help businesses to go circular

Globally only 8.6% of extracted resources are recycled; In HK, repurposing 1/4 waste plastics could yield HK$1mn, yet they only accounted for 0.3% of all recycled materials
ASPIRE is an online platform that provides Circular Economy solution to match biz with remanufacturers, purchasers & recyclers of waste materials
The platform has helped 600+ biz divert >45k tonnes of waste from landfill & save >AUD210k; it presents a biz opportunity for HK to meet their climate & economic targets

Have you ever imagined a world in which waste does not exist? Ever wondered what prosperity looks like in a world of finite resources, where production and consumption do not create any adverse effects on the planet? That’s what a Circular Economy (CE) looks like. The CE is a term that has been utilised quite a lot in recent times. But what exactly is it and how can it benefit us?

What is the circular economy?

In simple terms, it is the saying, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”. The general aim of the CE is to close the loops of raw materials and redirect used products and resources back into the economy. Doing this keeps all materials at their highest utility value possible by preventing toxic materials from entering landfills. It is the very opposite of the current state we live in, the ‘Linear Economy’.

What is the linear economy?

The Linear Economy follows the ‘Take-Make-Dispose’ model, where everything we produce, and use ends up getting thrown into landfill. In such an economy, the value created mainly depends on the number of products produced and sold.

Globally only 8.6% of extracted resources are getting recycled or reused

According to the Circularity Gap Report, the world is currently 8.6% ‘circular’. This means that out of all the extracted resources in the world, only 8.6% are getting recycled or reused, and the rest are entering landfill. In a world where waste is an ever-growing problem, combined with a decreasing amount of land available for landfill and sustainable waste management infrastructure, it is imperative that we reduce our over-reliance on throwing everything ‘away’.

Hong Kong’s landfill problem

In Hong Kong specifically, according to the Environment Protection Department, in 2019 more than 15,000 tonnes of waste was disposed per day which is more than 5.5 million tonnes per year. Commercial and industrial waste comprised about 40% of the total Municipal Solid Waste, which was more than double when compared to the figures of 2010.

5.5mn tonnes of waste was disposed per year


40% of the Municipal Solid Waste are from commercial & industrial which is >2x of 2010

Whilst locally there are some recycling facilities, the majority of waste is not currently recycled or recovered in Hong Kong. This performance, as outlined in the Waste Blueprint 2035, has mainly been hit due to the recent decline of the external recycling markets.

The power of reusing

Did you know that in 2019, waste plastics only accounted for 0.3% of all the materials recycled in Hong Kong?

HK$1mn could be generated per year if just 1/4 of all waste plastic repurposed into new materials

To give a snapshot of how reusing materials can help, here’s a surprising stat according to the Waste Blueprint – for each tonne of waste plastic that is transformed into pellets or other raw materials, the value generated could range from HK$1,200 to HK$15,000. If just a quarter of all the waste plastic were to be repurposed into new materials, the total economic benefit could be a staggering HK$1 million per year!

Besides reducing and refusing waste as an individual, it is crucial that businesses step up their efforts to lower their environmental impact. As businesses play a critical role in production and determining the resources that go into manufacturing, the need for businesses to become a part of the CE is greater now than ever before. Businesses have the power to be a force for good.

ASPIRE – a Circular Economy solution

Some of the biggest barriers to driving this circular transformation and bringing out behavioural change are time, resources and labour. In a fast-paced environment like Hong Kong, convenience is key. This is where an online platform like ASPIRE can help, by making exchanging resources a convenient part of life. Launching in Hong Kong this July with CLP, ASPIRE is looking to help local businesses create positive sustainable impact.

ASPIRE helps match one business’ “trash” to another business that can reuse or recycle…

ASPIRE is an online innovative matchmaking tool for material resource exchange, where one business’ “trash” (or resource) is matched to another business that can reuse, recycle, re-manufacture or repurpose it. With technology developed by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO and Data 61, ASPIRE contains an algorithm that can identify and match over 180 commodities. It engages and supports all sizes of businesses to reduce disposal costs, as well as carbon footprint and introduce CE practices with sustainable outcomes.

ASPIRE has helped diverting >45k tonnes of waste from landfill & save >AUD210k across Australia

Across Australia, the platform has already helped 600+ businesses divert over 45,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and save more than $210k (AUD) in operational costs. ASPIRE not only helps businesses offload resources, but also creates feedstock channels for sustainable procurement.

ASPIRE encourages businesses to rethink what goes into their production process and develop innovative ways of reusing existing materials. Along with providing access to a marketplace comprising hundreds of resources, ASPIRE helps its members track their economic and environmental impact, providing a live reporting dashboard. With many organisations requiring sustainability reporting and commitments to decarbonisation, ASPIRE’s impact measurement and metrics enhance their efforts.

In Hong Kong especially, 54% of solid waste sent to landfills comes from businesses and construction. This poses a strong opportunity for businesses to use CE solutions like ASPIRE to transform waste into money, and in doing so, meet their climate targets.

‘When looking at waste and the circular economy, it has to be a local solution.’ – Cameron McKenzie, CEO of ASPIRE 

CEO Cameron McKenzie says ASPIRE is fundamentally about creating local supply chains: “When looking at waste and the circular economy, it has to be a local solution. When you transact on the ASPIRE platform, it recommends that you work with those businesses closest to you. There was one Australian business on the platform that was importing a lot of stuff from an Asian country and there were always delays. But through ASPIRE they found the material they needed pretty much across the road and they only had to put a few hours in to get it. So essentially, they got the supply chain for free. It ticks all the boxes – localised solution, profitable, saves time and stress and there’s less of a carbon footprint.”

ASPIRE platform will be available as SEC ASPIRE on CLP’s Smart Energy Connect

In July 2021, the ASPIRE platform will be available as SEC ASPIRE on CLP’s Smart Energy Connect, their online marketplace for energy efficiency and sustainable solutions. Together, both CLP and ASPIRE aim to help businesses meet their environmental and economic targets, and one day reach a zero-waste Hong Kong where nothing would have to be sent to landfill.

If you want to learn more about SEC ASPIRE, take a look at the website here and register your interest for the launch.

Further Reading

  • Plastic, China & The Circular Economy – Can we avoid more plastics than fish by 2050? Only around 10% of plastics gets recycled, but this is where opportunities lie. Woodring, founder of Plasticity Forum, shares key points from the 5th annual forum on the circular future of plastic
  • T Park: Waste-to-Energy In Hong Kong -Hong Kong’s increasing waste load by 2030 will put tremendous pressure on its management capability.  Veolia’s Nina Cambadelis introduces T PARK, a state-of-the-art sludge treatment facility that turns waste into energy while achieving ‘zero wastewater discharge’
  • Get Redressed In Circular Fashion – Has circular fashion finally arrived in HK? With 130 companies, clubs & schools engaged in their biggest ever Get Redressed
  • Are You A Responsible Consumer? – With waste levels already sky high and set to grow China Water Risk’s Dawn McGregor mulls over the challenges of being a responsible consumer from fashion to food to plastic. Be it as an individual or corporate, see what action you can take
  • Race For Water – Converting Plastic Waste to Energy – With most plastic waste fragmented into tiny particles, ocean clean-up is increasingly difficult. Enter Race For Water Foundation’s circular tech to transform 5-12t of plastic waste per day to energy. Their Camille Rollin expands

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Tamanna Wadhwani
Author: Tamanna Wadhwani
Tamanna Wadhwani is the Marketing and Communications coordinator at ASPIRE in Melbourne, Australia. She holds a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) from Deakin University. She is optimistic and passionate to work on solving environmental, animal welfare and social issues. She hopes to eventually work in a mixed area of policy and science and give back to her country, India. In her free time, she loves to dance and read books.
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