Towards zero waste

Towards zero waste

EcoRecycle is on a mission to clean up Victoria and it's recycling knowledge in the process.

EcoRecycle Victoria is on a mission to protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations. Its challenge is to develop a 'materials efficient' Victoria in which waste generation is greatly reduced, resources are used more efficiently and waste disposal at landfill is seen as a last resort.

But despite its name, recycling is not the State agency's first objective. EcoRecycle has been campaigning hard, getting Victorians to re-think about the products they purchase before waste is created.

Funded by the Landfill levy, the organisation was established in 1996 as part of the State's amendments to the Environmental Protection Act with a charter to bring about significant changes to the way Victoria addresses resource recovery, recycling and waste management. But knowledge and its management are critical to EcoRecycle's ability to work in a collaborative and complementary manner with key stakeholders including regional waste management authorities, local government, industry, consumer groups and relevant community groups.

EcoRecycle's knowledge manager Jan Reiher explains, "The knowledge and experience of our specialist staff is our core asset for assisting the growth in understanding of waste issues and in the development and introduction of best practice initiatives across the community, municipal, building and construction and other key sectors."

Reiher recognised that the organisation was unable to gain a total picture of its information assets because electronic information was being stored in various folders, owned by individual staff members. She also recognised that the organisation would have an instant loss of valuable knowledge if an employee walked out the door. To overcome both, Reiher needed to find a better way to maximise the organisations skills and knowledge assets so that it could continue to fulfil its role in nurturing an ethos of environmental sustainability throughout Victoria.

Moreover, rapid retrieval of information is critical for organisations like EcoRecycle, who have a need for ongoing liaison and fast response to major stakeholder groups in industry and the community.

To better manage its information assets, the company chose to install Open Text's Livelink knowledge management system. "We evaluated five knowledge management packages but chose Open Text's Livelink version 9.1 for its fast return on investment performance, web-friendly environment and ease of integration with our existing legacy environment," says Reiher.

Taking only a week to install, and merged with a SQL server, Livelink replaces a Microsoft file platform, providing employees with a user-friendly browser interface. The system allows for virtual team collaboration, business process automation, enterprise group scheduling and information retrieval services.

Deploying 50 licenses, all information is now stored in the organisation's intranet front end of the application, with staff encouraged to store all material in their personal or enterprise space: "One of the major challenges we faced in implementing Livelink was in ensuring the staff felt confident, and that it gained their "buy in" to a changed mode of information asset management."

Employing just 40 people to manage Victoria's environmental issues, Livelink has enabled EcoRecycle to maximise its limited people base by providing users with an understanding of the power of the search function and the ability to find information quickly: "But the best part is that we can see at a glance what has been completed, who is doing what, who are our specialists in a particular area, and what we really know about a topic before we contact the stakeholder", says Reiher.

"We are able to work together as an organisation rather than at individual knowledge levels. We're now all fully aware of the issues facing the organisation and are more aligned with our charter, which in the long term is for the benefit of the sustainable future of Victoria.

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