Five minutes with Afram Hanna, Founder and CEO of GreenHands

We spoke with the founder and CEO of greenhands.net, an online marketplace for recycling Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste.

What is GreenHands?

GreenHands is an online marketplace for recycling construction & demolition waste.

I have worked and owned businesses in the civil contracting and waste management industry for over 20 years and I have seen millions of tons of perfectly recyclable materials end up in landfill.

While community awareness about recycling has improved and recycling rates have risen over the last few years, recycling efforts have not kept pace with the rapid growth rate of waste generation.

In particular, construction and demolition (C&D) waste accounts for 42% of the material that ends up in landfill. I saw a huge opportunity in this area and together with Paul Gibbins, environmental consultant and Cinnamon Pollard, digital start-up specialist we developed and launched GreenHands specifically to combat this problem.

Builders, excavators, demolishers and even DIY home renovators can use GreenHands to find out who has the recycled building materials and salvaged goods they need or who wants to take the construction & demolition waste they have generated in their local area. It encourages people to trade with each other before resorting to raw materials or landfills.

 

Why is GreenHands so unique/innovative?

GreenHands is a social enterprise. Our vision is A World Without Waste and we are passionate about the environment.

There are a number of online marketplaces such as Gumtree, eBay and etsy where people can buy and sell recycled goods but GreenHands is the only marketplace that has been specifically designed for the demolition, excavation and construction industry.

Building materials have an environmental impact at every step of the building process—extraction of raw materials, processing, manufacturing, transportation, construction and disposal at the end of a building’s useful life.

The building supply chain is complex and involves a large number of stakeholders each playing their part in the delivery of buildings. In this technology-driven world, the Internet can be a great tool for supporting the management of C&D waste generation and recovery across every step of the building lifecycle.

Posting an ad or listing your business on GreenHands is free. We’ve created a categorised waste classification platform for both consumers and generators of waste and/or materials to connect and communicate.

The main objective of GreenHands is to maximise potential for reuse and recycling by positively incentivising people to recycle (saving money and time) rather than taxing landfill (encouraging avoidance).

 

What are the biggest trends in waste and recycling innovation today?

There are a number of trends in waste and recycling innovation in 2017. Some of these include waste to energy gasification, improved composting and vermi-composting techniques, digitalisation of workplaces to reduce the use of paper and improved technology in the production of biodegradable products and packaging.

What excites GreenHands the most is the increased use of digital technology and data analysis across the waste management and recycling industry. The digital revolution has made operations much more efficient, safe and environmentally friendly.

For example, the increased use of drones on landfill sites is expected to help track the growth of landfill sites and make monitoring more cost-efficient. Fleet management software and cloud-based applications will continue to improve route logistics, internal communications and waste tracking and reporting. Next generation sorting and dismantling robots will increase waste diversion and account for more precise separation.

Having said that, Industry can innovate and invent the best waste and recycling technology in the world, but unless people are educated about proper recycling practices and incentivised to transport the right types of waste to the right facility, this technology and machinery will never reach its full recycling potential.

 

What are the biggest challenges facing waste and recycling businesses in today’s climate?

The three biggest challenges we see are: slowing the rapid rate of growth of waste generation; improving people’s lack of information and knowledge about what & where materials can be recycled; and thirdly, how do we incentivise people to do so.

We hope that GreenHands will provide a solution to all three challenges in the Construction & Demolition waste stream.

 

How can people learn more about GreenHands?

Learn more about GreenHands by watching our explainer video: https://vimeo.com/219808961 and by visiting the GreenHands website: www.GreenHands.net.

If you support our vision of #aworldwithoutwaste then follow us on facebook and instagram.

 


The Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo runs from August 23-24 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Register free now to see GreenHands on stand F42 at AWRE 2017.