Online waste exchange schemes redistribute reusable resources

Online waste exchange schemes redistribute reusable resources

Portuguese waste operators will soon be able to trade non-toxic waste through an electronic marketplace. This will give companies the chance to benefit from the reuse of waste.

A law passed by the Portuguese government in September 2009 paved the way for an electronic marketplace to trade waste. The intention is to stimulate the exchange of diverse types of waste. By providing companies with the opportunity to both sell and purchase reusable waste, this will enable users to maximise the value of their waste.

According to the country’s environmental ministry, the electronic platform will “rationalise the allocation of resources, reduce costs and the demand for raw materials and potentially promote industrial symbioses”. As a result, the ministry believes that the system will become self-financing and compatible with integrated waste management models.

A consortium of Portuguese organisations will maintain the electronic platform and will invite companies to join on a voluntary basis. “It is hard to estimate the potential value of the market because it is not clear which categories of product will eventually be traded this way,” says Jorge Araújo, executive director of Centro para a Valorização de Residuos (CVR) – a non-profit private research centre focusing on treatment and recycling processes for industrial wastes.

Already in operation elsewhere

Online waste-exchange services are already operating in other parts of Europe. For example, through the support of Cheltenham borough council, the UK environmental business services provider Green Buying Ltd. has been able to launch the Scrapshop.co.uk website.

The aim of the website is to discourage public and private bodies from throwing their waste into landfill sites. Instead the hope is that such waste will be traded with organisations that can use it. This free service also enables organisations looking for particular waste materials to advertise their need. Thanks to the Scrapshop.co.uk website, Cheltenham borough council and Green Buying Ltd. hope to divert 3 000 tonnes of waste from landfills by 2012.

A similar international online waste stock exchange has been operating in Italy since 2001. Developed and managed by Garwer S.r.l., and supported by Bologna Eco-Sustainable Energetic Systems Division of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment (ENEA), the wastexchange.co.uk website was designed as an online waste exchange network.

Garwer believe those businesses which use the website can reduce disposal costs, enjoy lower purchasing costs and create a positive image for their organisation by being seen to redistribute resources and materials to where they are needed.

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