Indigenous-owned business Envirobank is a true trendsetter and changemaker in the recycling and waste industry.
Kicking off in 2008, Envirobank is the brainchild of Indigenous woman Narelle Anderson.
With almost three decades of experience in the recycling and waste industry, Ms Anderson began her journey as a young Indigenous entrepreneur building the company CBD Enviro Services — which she later sold to a public company.
Now as founder and managing director of Envirobank, Ms Anderson steers the ship that is her second business towards success.
“Envirobank is the second company that I have owned. It’s a really exciting company, as what we primarily do is reward and incentivise consumers, businesses and alike for recycling,” Ms Anderson told NIT.
The business wears the badge of being the first to introduce reverse spending to Australia.
“We built a rewards incentive program around that because at the time, the container deposit scheme, which underpins reverse vending machines now, didn’t exist,” she said.
“In the absence of a container deposit scheme we built a really cool rewards and incentive program for people to change their behaviours and do the right thing — to recycle right!”
“We were before our time … we thought it was a good idea a long time before everyone else thought it was a good idea.
“The catalyst for us starting Envirobank and getting involved with technology was because in my previous company we had a lot of public place contracts where we picked up a lot of public place recycling bins,” she said.
“We were increasingly frustrated with the fact that those recycling bins were contaminated.
“That told us that people really didn’t understand how to recycle right.”
The business is currently operating in NSW, the NT and Queensland — with plans to extend into WA and South Australia.
In the NT, Envirobank operates recycling depots with a focus on remote community recycling services.
In NSW, the business operates the Return and Earn Scheme and in Queensland, the Containers for Change Scheme.
“We do different things in each of those States because the schemes are run slightly differently in each State. In all States we run container refund points, that is the similarity,” Ms Anderson said.
Envirobank’s rewards platform Crunch runs alongside all existing schemes.
Ms Anderson said one of the business’ “special powers” is its ability to remain innovative.
“Our size enables us to be nimble, and the fact that the business is a founder-led business means we don’t have some of the challenges that our bigger corporate competitors have,” she said.
“For example, in an innovation perspective, if we think something is a good idea, we have the capacity to give it a crack.”
Being an Indigenous-owned business, Envirobank is dedicated to ensuring sustainability and caring for Country.
“Our charter from inception has always been caring for Country. That is who we are,” Ms Anderson said.
“If we are getting these plastic bottles and cans out of our rainforests, national parks and waterways — we are working to heal Country at the same time.
“One of the things that excites me about Envirobank still is the fact that I’ve built a company that employs more than 114 Australians and therefore provides an opportunity for those families to prosper.”
By Rachael Knowles