The sorting line at Möbius Materials Recovery is noisy and dusty, and where you are likely to find owners Dean van Huizen and Mark Pettenuzzo. Chances are Isabelle Asfar, the catalyst for the creation of Möbius, will be there too. As part of a team of specially trained employees they sort through waste from home construction sites and Isabelle is justifiably proud of their efforts. “At the moment we are recovering in excess of 90% of the material for recycling and other uses,” she says.

The solution to a problem

Recycling isn’t Mark and Dean’s main business. In fact Möbius was established to solve a problem faced by their commercial and industrial building company, Circon Constructions: how to manage construction waste in a better way.

Back in 2010 Isabelle was a project manager with Circon and ideally placed to tackle the issue of waste. Since 2004 she had engaged with a number of environmentally-focused businesses and organisations, including Close the Loop, NECO and Beyond Zero Emissions. Looking to recycle much more than the standard metals, bricks and concrete, Isabelle began to develop a business case for recovery and recycling of as wide a range of materials as possible.

This mission sent Isabelle on a 24 month search for companies that could use or recycle everything from plastic straps and MDF through to plaster board, PVC pipe, scraps of wood, paint buckets and plastic films.

Price sensitivity

In early 2013 Isabelle, Mark and Dean were ready to take their ideas to the construction industry. “We found that most builders want to do the right thing,” says Isabelle, “but their margins are pretty tight, and for them to get on board we needed to provide a service that costs no more than sending the waste to landfill.” It also had to be easy to implement, with no separation of waste on the building site.

Custom designed sorting facility

Confident that all requirements could be achieved a custom-designed sorting line was commissioned from a Queensland manufacturing firm.

Möbius was born and recycling shifts commenced in April 2014.

Extending the environmental ethos Circon Constructions has practiced for years, the Möbius depot has a 50,000 litre rainwater tank and the plan is to emulate the Circon head office by installing a large solar power system.

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What does this mean for builders?

Möbius seeks to cause minimal building site disturbance and to leave the site in a clean and tidy condition. The customised materials recovery vehicle has a truck-mounted crane with a clam shell bucket allowing it to stay on the road as it retrieves the contents of the on-site recycling cages. That’s one less truck entering the site and dragging dirt onto the road where it gets washed into storm water drains.

Education the key

A big part of Isabelle’s job is education. It begins with giving employees a good understanding of the importance of the jobs they perform – the savings in energy and the reduction in landfill. And based on the philosophy of “getting them while they’re young”, there are plans to host school groups to educate the next generation on the importance of recycling.

Not that Möbius is waiting for those children to work their way into decision making roles; Isabelle can also provide consulting services to help other companies develop environmentally sustainable business strategies to improve your brand marketing messages.

Plans for growth

Möbius already has its future expansion strategy mapped out. With plans to move into the Surf Coast region and eventually regional Victoria, Möbius is keen to keep up with its state wide customer demands and is busy securing opportunities with both state and local government bodies to allow future expansion into these areas.

Future steps will also allow expansion beyond home construction waste to commercial and industrial building wastes, which tend to be more complex, and to continue including other materials for which recycling solutions are yet to be found.

Customised solutions

In addition to providing a collection and recovery service at the same market rates as conventional ‘waste’ companies, Möbius provides a consultative approach to on-site waste management to understand clients’ needs and how their businesses operate.

“We don’t just offer a ‘one size fits all’ model,” says Isabelle. “Our solutions are as unique as the customers we deal with, and this is something we are proud of.” She lists a range of operational benefits for clients: the SMS messaging system, data and reporting, and quality and OH&S systems.

“These create extra value clients in the form of overall cost savings and on site time savings, as well as superior environmental outcomes for the waste materials they produce.”

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