“In our first year of operation we rescued just over 800kgs, or over a quarter of a million single-use plastic lids from going to landfill, waterways or worse, our oceans.”
Adam (Adz) and Ashlee (Ash) Slater co-founded and run, along with “best mate of 20 years” Zac Johns, Zero Plastics Australia; “a small family-owned business turning single-use waste into new unique and practical products”.
It was their eye-catching stall at the Geelong Circular Living Show that first grabbed my attention. Boxes, earrings, USB’s, key-rings, clipboards, pens, combs (the list goes on), seemingly forged in an explosion of colour! After a friendly chat, I was not only inspired by learning how they make each design, but also by the story that brought about their Ballarat-based business. Adz recounts the journey:
“On Easter Sunday, 2020 I suffered a heart attack. During my recovery I was diagnosed with a rare heart condition Brugada Syndrome. Brugada Syndrome was formerly known as Sudden Death syndrome with the first symptom of diagnosis being death by heart attack, so I felt extremely lucky to survive this. With that fire under my feet, I decided to quit my secure 9-5 job at Federation University, and follow my dreams of starting my own recycling plastic factory, all in my very own shed. Being a long-term follower, I was inspired by the worldwide movement of Precious Plastic, giving me the knowledge and know how to begin my recycling process.”
They’ve partnered with Lids4Kids Australia to gain a steady supply of plastic lids that might otherwise end up in landfill. These are the plastic lids that aren’t able to be recycled in the average council recycling pick up (so remember to always separate your lids when you’re popping your milk/juice/soft drink bottles into the recycling bin at home).
“Lids4Kids Australia collect, clean and sort plastic lids. We buy their number 4 LDPE lids from them. We then take our lids to Ballarat Regional Industries to be shredded and we receive them back in wheelie bins, sorted into colours. We have just had 160 thousand lids shredded that are in our shed now ready to be turned into products, rather than heading off to landfill and wasting away for years pointlessly taking up space!”
Being passionate about the environment, Adz and Ash also offer interactive on-line education sessions for schools. “We talk to the students about everything from what plastic is, how it’s made, what we can do with it, and how the students can be the change needed.”
Officially launched in December 2020, the small team are pleasantly surprised at how Zero Plastics Australia is progressing.
“We try to travel around to markets on weekends to get our name out there, and I was telling someone about our education sessions and how the student receives a keyring, and she spun her bag around showing us her keyring and proudly said ‘Yep, I know!’. This made me absolutely speechless.”
No doubt with the future of their two young children in mind, Ash & Adz have put into action a way to reduce our plastic waste. I hope they inspire you too!
Story and photos: Sarah Treacy