The new way to banish tough recycling problems
“There are these amazing people out there who want to do the right thing but they just need somebody or a company to allow them to do that, so that is what BRAD is doing.”
Founder of Australian-based enirvonnmental company Banish Lottie Dalziel says the there are small and simple steps everyone can make in the journey to sustainability.
Banish has diverted 7.5 tonnes of waste from landfill, from around 6500 Australian households, through the recycling initiative they began, known as BRAD.
The Banish Recycling and Disposal Program (BRAD) aims to offer an end-to-end solution for a range of items that aren’t usually accepted by council recycling or other centres.
Since launching in November 2020, the program has taken on many household items such as blister packs, toothpaste tubes, lotion bottles, coffee pods and bread tags, among many others.
The BRAD program is solely funded by Banish, through a team of volunteers who donate their time to support, sort and recycle what would otherwise be waste.
Founder of Banish and the BRAD program Lottie Dalziel said the program because because she thought there had to be more she could do.
“I’d been reducing my waste for a number of years, but still I was throwing things into my general waste bin each month. I was looking at things like blister packs and beauty products going ‘this isn’t really something that we can just stop using’,” she said.
“At the time, we were toying with a lot of different ideas for Banish, which were kind of around, ‘do we donate a percentage of our profits to charity?’ or ‘how do we give back to the community?'”
“So, I thought the BRAD program was a really good way to educate [and] is one of the biggest things that we do at Banish. We also aim to engage the community in recycling because you are doing something [where] you can physically see the reduction in waste going into landfill, because of an individual’s actions, which I think is really, really powerful and it’s really inspiring.”
“BRAD is a beast; it’s an amazing beast and it is great. It is so exciting to see so many Australians participating,” she said.
Accepting recyclables from every state and territory, Banish receives hundreds of packages a week that are sorted into streams before being recycled in Australia.
This is made possible through partnering with Teracycle and various company-based recycling programs such as L’OR, Moccona and NESCAFÉ.
“I think BRAD has been one of the best things for our business, but it’s also been extremely challenging. It started in my backyard, it was meant to be a very small part of the business and it has completely taken over. I think it keeps me up at night in a good way because there’s just so much opportunity with it and there’s so many things that I want to do with it.”
Every time we think that we’re kind of on top of it, it just grows to another level. I think that is just something that I probably didn’t anticipate.”
Dalziel was a finalist in the Sydney City NSW Business Chamber Awards in 2018 and 2019, for Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Start-Up and in 2020, she also gave a TEDx talk The Power of Community in Fighting Climate Change.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the company has flourished with the lockdown periods providing many people time for lifestyle reflection.
“I think [the pandemic] made a lot of people kind of go ‘hang on, I could be doing better’ and people had the time and they were willing to spend that time learning and educating themselves. So I think it was really a really good time for sustainability,” she said.
“As everything opens up and everybody goes traveling again, I still think it is very much front of mind,” she said.
“It’s all about making small simple steps. Even though I’ve been living a sustainable lifestyle for the past four and a bit years now, I’m by no means perfect and I’m still using plastic every day. I’m using far less, though, than when I first started, so that’s the most important thing.”
Dalziel suggests we start with investigating what we buy.
“I don’t really like to be prescriptive, because I think that everybody’s sustainability journey is different because everybody’s lifestyle is different. I think a couple of really good places to start are with your purchasing,” she said.
So, when you go to purchase something, whether it’s at the grocery store, or at a fashion label, think about if this is something that you will use, think about who made it, think about how it is packaged.
“I think that’s a really good one. It’s a matter of maybe once you finish with something or a product, looking for a more sustainable swap.
“I think there are so many different facets to sustainability, there is climate change, carbon fashion, beauty, household waste, recycling, composting, but I don’t think you need to do it all. I think you should focus on what matters to you and what inspires and excites you.”
“You might look at your friend who only thrifts and never buys new clothing, but then they might drive their car everywhere. Whereas you catch public transport everywhere. It’s really easy to compare yourself to people you see online, to your friends to your family but you’ve got to remember that you’re running your own race,” she said.
“So I think it’s about being realistic with it. It’s not about banning plastic for the rest of your life and beating yourself up, just be kind to yourself and also the planet.”
More information on how to contribute to the BRAD program can be found here.