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More than a “dating site for dirt” – smart technology that all rail operators need to know about

27 Nov 2019, by Amy Sarcevic

The rail industry generates thousands of tonnes of construction waste per annum and just a fraction of this is diverted from landfills, to be recycled, reused, reprocessed or stockpiled.

This level of wastage is more than just an environmental and economic concern; it’s a major missed financial opportunity for businesses, highlights Jack Manning Sustainability Lead for South Eastern Program Alliance, Level Crossing Removal Project.

“Whether pulling material out of the ground in digging activities, or dealing with the removal of rail systems when relocating or upgrading services, it’s not just materials we’re throwing away, it’s often a significant financial asset for our client,” he says ahead of AusRail PLUS 2019.

“Virtually every material we might normally consider for the tip is an opportunity for value creation, as well as a chance to make a positive environmental impact.”

Whilst many organisations recognise the potential for recycling or reuse of their construction materials or debris, to date there hasn’t always been a viable way to do it, says Cherie Lee, Founding Director of matX.

“Often the positive intention or desire is there, but it’s really challenging because practical constraints stand in the way,” she says.

“Sometimes scrapping assets or throwing them in the skip can seem like the only viable option for frontline delivery staff.”

A Civil Engineer and a Systems and Value Specialist, Cherie first became concerned about the absence of a viable, cross-industry “reuse ecosystem” whilst undertaking work as part of Victoria’s ‘Big Build’ program.

A passionate believer that commercial opportunity should drive environmental practice, the challenge resonated with her long after the initiative itself and she felt compelled to find a solution.

This inspired her to devise a new technology called matX which she jokingly refers to as “next generation Tinder for construction materials”.

“matX is based on circular economy principles. The idea is that we facilitate the marrying up of material sharing across sectors in the easiest way possible, whilst ensuring that the materials retain their highest possible value in the process,” she says.

“In other words, we make sure the material is reused for purposes that are as close as possible to its initial use, so that maximum value is retained.  Importantly, this is also the best outcome for the environment.”

The technology is in its early stages and is currently just a minimum viable product, but has already struck a chord with the rail industry and is being considered for a major innovation award.

Jack says, “At this point it may be ambitious to say the technology will allow us to reach a zero waste target, but we’re confident it will help us make really positive changes and improve our bottom line,” he says.

Hear more about the matX technology at AusRail PLUS 2019.
Register now to secure your seat.

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