Close the Loop Limited (CtL) is a company focused on recycling the products that make our photocopiers and printers work effectively and reliably.

As a recycler of imaging consumables including inkjet cartridges, laser toner cartridges, drum units, copier bottles and more, CtL is leading the world on how to effectively and efficiently process these products in a way that results in zero waste to landfill.

This includes all materials and substances from plastics and metals through to the residual inks and toner remaining in cartridges and copier bottles.

CtL is no re-branded waste management company that simply collects and moves waste around town. The investment in state of the art materials, separation processes and technologies is obvious when you walk around the Melbourne-based facility.

Similarly, the company’s CEO, Steve Morriss, is not an ex-landfill manager or standards-obsessed environmental manager.

Morriss is totally switched on when it comes to the language, concepts and realities of making environmental sustainability a successful commercial reality. His enthusiasm and optimism is more than infectious and the focus is on finding solutions and pushing the boundaries of what is often considered too hard by others in the waste management sector.

At the same time Morriss and his team aren’t prototyping a dinky, altruistic operation. The commercial rigour and no-nonsense research and development activities are outcome driven with a view to maximising return on investment. Having said that, the fundamental environmental agenda is never compromised.

The services and approach developed by CtL haven’t gone unnoticed by key global players in the IT and printing world. CtL works directly with several companies to help collect and recycle end-of-life imaging consumables manufactured or distributed by companies such as Brother, Canon, Epson and IBM.

In addition to dealing with local product and environment managers, Morriss travels the world negotiating directly with environment and sustainability executives from these same companies.

He is embedding the company in their business decision-making at the highest levels, be it in the US, Europe or South East Asia. Many of these companies are seeing the environmental and economic value of what CtL is able to offer.

At a time when we hear about radical European regulation dealing with electronic waste, Morriss and CtL are tendering and negotiating collection and recycling contracts in the UK and France.

It’s a genuine example of where exemplary practices developed in Australia are being sold to those countries where more stringent environmental regulations are the key drivers for managing end-of-life disassembly and recycling.

In relation to design and product development, the connection is obvious to CtL. The easier and faster it is for CtL to separate materials in the smallest of inkjet cartridges and other similar products, the more economically viable the recycling process.

Morriss understands the relevance of eco-design and Design for Environment (DfE), and is proactive about how he provides data and feedback to the global OEMs on opportunities for design improvements.

It’s this engagement with upstream interventions that characterises Morriss as a very different operator in the sector. He can talk DfE, Life Cycle Assessment and Producer Responsibility with US and EU based executives while many local waste management companies still struggle to negotiate a basic contract with a local council.

On a more local level, CtL is a key element in the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark campaign, which features over 22,000 collection and drop-off points for end-of-life imaging consumables.

The campaign is a multi-vendor initiative with a diverse range of participating organisations such as Australia Post, Officeworks, Harvey Norman and Dick Smith Electronics as well as the commercial and government sectors.

Next time you’re at a participating Australia Post outlet and notice the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark collection box, remember it’s CtL who run the program, including receiving and recycling the contents. The campaign is an example of how a partnership approach is helping deliver a convenient and environmentally worthwhile service to the general community.

One of the products resulting from the plastics recycled by CtL is eWood. A mix of co-mingled plastics from inkjet and laser cartridges, as well as toner bottles, ends up as a ‘plastic lumber’ type product suitable for outdoor applications. Its smooth surface makes it an ideal fencing material for horse enclosures where splinters can cause havoc. The overall novelty of eWood

together with the research and development that made it possible resulted in CtL being an episode winner on ABC Television’s New Inventors program. Part of the success behind eWood has been the involvement of CtL’s plastics recycling guru – Dr John Scheirs – one of Australia’s leading polymer technologists and consultant to CtL.

Ultimately, Morriss and his team (including the Board) are helping shape a new approach and a more sophisticated view of what environmental sustainability can mean for business, the environment and the community.

Discussions about conventional waste management models and how Australia is too small a market serve as a sedative for Morriss. He’s after solutions and outcomes that deliver environmental gains and economic enhancement.

There’s no doubt CtL is one of the Australia’s leading pioneers when it comes to high tech resource recovery. It’s more than likely that we’ll see CtL and their services go global in a way that retains Australian IP and control, and thus provide an example of how home-grown innovation, commitment and sound business practices can lead the world.

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