Karratha Environmental Crushing provides commercial, industrial, and residential recycling services throughout Karratha and the Pilbara. The business was founded in 2012 by Kristian Corps and his three brothers in order to address the market’s particular need for the recycling and re-use of construction and demolition waste. Growing from small beginnings, the company now processes up to 40,000 tonnes of waste per year, with an area of service that extends as far East as Newman and as far South as Onslow, incorporating Port Headland, Karratha, Wickham, Dampier, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, and Pannawonica.
Concrete recycling is Karratha Environmental Crushing’s flagship service. The business first collects construction and demolition waste, made up primarily of concrete and small amounts of asphalt. The waste is then treated, separated, recycled, and eventually used for products such as concrete road base, which is used for road construction, and is produced to main road equivalent specification (Currently under specification of Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia – WA [IPWEA WA]). Karratha Environmental Crushing also offers glass recycling and an asphalt recycling service, working in tandem with a sister company that utilises the recycled product for asphalt production.
The core of Karratha Environmental Crushing’s business is the receiving of materials, usually through agreements with companies carrying out major operations, such as the demolition of the Karratha Entertainment Centre in 2014, part demolition of the old HI power station in Dampier, cleanup from Woodside’s Pluto construction phase and construction waste from Chevron’s Gorgon Project. The company also deals with major waste management and trasport clients such as Toxfree, Transpacific Cleanaway, Instant Waste Management, Western Resource Recovery and Veolia on a regular basis, as well as a large number of local demolition and construction businesses. “We are a major disposal service for them,” says Kristian. “Diverting material away from landfill is key.”
Construction and demolition waste is known to take up a significant amount of valuable space in landfill sites, up to 65% in some areas. Concrete recycling is not only critical to reducing such landfill volumes, it also aids in the preservation of natural rock supplies and the environments surrounding them. “We do have an abundance of natural minerals and materials, especially here in the Pilbara. Another major benefit of recycling is that the energy requirements for producing recycled concrete roadbase are much less than getting those raw materials out of the ground. Although our production rates are very very small compared to raw material production – at least it is something.” Corps says. “Doing what we do provides a value to construction and demolition waste that previously was not there; it can no longer be seen as a waste as such, it is now a resource with value to it.”
Karratha Environmental Crushing’s recycling process involves a significant amount of manual handling, as the materials must be carefully cleaned to produce a product that meets very strict specifications. Any contaminants, such as wood or plastics, must be sorted and removed by hand. The crushing equipment is new and regularly serviced, and Karratha Environmental Crushing reuses many of its own products with its sister companies as much as possible. The manual inspection process also helps to reduce the company’s carbon footprint; loads are sorted to segregate materials that require different amounts of work. “The stuff that requires less work can be processed faster and with less energy expended,” says Kristian. “We do what we can to minimise impact by using our machinery only for as long as it is required.“
When Karratha Environmental Crushing was first established, it was quickly noticed as a pioneer of new environmental practices, and was the recipient of a Young Business Achiever of the Year Award. However, Kristian views the company’s development of products of equal quality as naturally produced road construction products as its greatest achievement. “The main thing about our being remote is that we don’t get involved as much with city projects,” he says. “Being inside the city, and being surrounded by more like-minded companies and associations would mean more exposure for us, but really, the big point for us is getting the materials that we produce accepted with local shires and major projects around the region. That’s been a big push for us, to get that acceptance, and to get people thinking about that first as a potential product.”
Due to the company’s remote location, Karratha Environmental Crushing relies on its involvement with industry associations, such as the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA), to keep up with industry news and innovations and help spread awareness of its products and practices. The company also works closely with the local shires/councils and recycling companies with the goal of producing better solutions for greater recycling diversity. “We’ve always got different ideas and plenty of queries from clients,” says Mr Corps, “and if we can recycle something else that fits within our envelope, we’ll definitely look at it.”
The continued production of its recycled concrete road base, coupled with furthering the product’s acceptance as a replacement for natural aggregate roadbases, is the highest priority for Karratha Environmental Crushing, “It needs to be nationally recognised;” Kristian says, “the states vary with their requirements and what materials can be used, but if there was some national recognition or accreditation for alternative road base products, that would go a long way in helping to promote these materials.”
Kristian Corps takes pride in Karratha Environmental Crushing’s tight-knit family organisation. Growing up, the four brothers had each worked as engineers elsewhere, eventually moving back one by one to work together at the family business. “It’s pleasing to see that we can work together, and that we’re achieving things here. We like to see that we’re working to try and better the way things are done, alongside many other companies trying to do the same thing,” he says. “We’re looking at recycling as much as we can.” Looking to the future, Kristian aims to place a new focus on liquid waste and push glass recycling further forward. “We want to expand and make sure that we take 100% of construction and demolition waste, as opposed to materials going into landfill. We have a very good relationship with the City of Karratha, and we just want to push that all around the region.”