Lasso Loop Recycling Ltd (LLR) have approached at least 30 councils and not one has shown any interest.
This is because the Councils or Cities or Counties:
LLR has approached very large, large and smaller participants in the waste and recycling industry around the world including in Australia, USA, UK and Europe. Up until 18 months ago, not one representative from one company would listen more than a few minutes before advising what LLR is proposing ie. a domestic recycling service, will not work.
Of course, they could be right! They might also be wrong.
In early 2019 the business development executive of a large US waste and recycling company listened. He was the first. He listened for well over three hours. We worked on his VP of Recycling and made the normal progress. None!
We plan to keep approaching and asking the recycling companies.
Well before Lassos are ubiquitous in households the world over, Lassos will have become a major disrupter for the current providers of domestic recycling services. Lassos will dramatically reduce a huge and easy-earned income stream. The income stream is hidden in the rates or taxes you compulsorily and regularly pay to your council, city or county. Your money finds its way into the bank accounts of the waste and recycling companies who provide the “not-recycling” services.
LLR has and they are not interested at this early-development stage because they:
If dedicated funds can be sourced, LLR would start the development required to produce a bespoke Lasso for bars and restaurants immediately.
LLR has offered Lasso’s to apartment block developers. LLR is too early in the development phase for the apartment owners of developers to consider installing Lasso appliances in their apartments.
Lassos will not work in apartments in the initial stages because:
Once the development technical side of the domestic recycling appliance is handed over to a commercialization team, the technical development team will focus on developing Lassos for apartments.
Down the track, there will be Lassos in public places like streets.
Lassos will not be suitable to be in public places in the initial stages because:
With dedicated funding, LLR would welcome the opportunity to develop such units which are more complicated than domestic Lasso appliances.
Site-and-material-specific Lassos will be in hospitals, on building sites, in factories, in restaurants, at entertainment venues, in educational institutions and public places, though this will not occur in the first roll-out of Lassos.
Unless dedicated funding is obtained to develop these site-and-material-specific Lassos, they will not be developed in the first few years while the first domestic Lassos are rolled out because:
If dedicated funds can be sourced, LLR would start the development required to produce a bespoke Lasso for hospitals and building sites etc.
Lasso will be in schools and universities. Please refer to the question and answer 4. Why not have communal street machines?
Educational institutions will not invest in Lasso technology in the early stages because funding, whether by government or privately, does not allow for early investment in innovative technology
With dedicated funding, LLR would welcome the opportunity to develop such units which are more complicated than domestic Lasso appliances.
Once the bespoke units are available, these institutions will be keen to install Lassos on campus.
LLR has approached both Federal and State Governments and made applications through various early-stage funding processes in Australia, US and UK. To date up front funding has not been secured because:
Lasso being at the pre-prototype development stage is at the R&D Stage and qualifies for Australian and UK R&D tax incentive payment schemes which pays a percentage of R&D funds already spent in the following tax year
Lasso does not qualify for commercialization development funding being at a too early stage of development
There are numerous State Government funding schemes which Lasso has investigated. Lasso only qualifies for those few that are in the recycling space and then to date, all recycling funding applications have been specified for performance improvements to specific parts of the existing recycling system, to which Lasso does not qualify.
There is a false perception that the problems associated with recycling are “sorted”. This is misleading because, while many countries have made huge strides in collection of recycling only a very small percentage is closed-loop recycled (used plastic bottle recycled back to plastic bottle).
For example, Europeans collect for recycling over 85% of the PET containers sold. However, just 14% of the PET containers sold are closed-loop recycled back into the same original form (eg. Food and beverage containers, plastic drink bottles etc), Over 35% of the sold PET containers are down-cycled, which means recycled to a lower value product, for example carpet base in the case of PET.
So if say 15% of our PET is closed loop recycled there is still a need to keep creating new PET containers to supply the remaining 85% necessary to maintain the status quo. That means we are locked into an endless need to produce more and more PET with all the attendant environmental problems associated.
Lasso technology will guarantee that everything put into a Lasso machine will be closed-loop recycled – that is bottles will come back as bottles etc. Endlessly. Closed-loop recycling can potentially provide 90% of the current manufacturing input supply needs.
As will all products (fridges, cars etc) early up-takers will tend to fall into the higher socio-economic group and, in the case of Lasso supporters, they will have a desire to be “green” and to do the right thing. They will also, initially, comprise people who can afford to not expect immediate returns on their investment but can wait some years until net costs will move to net profit ie. Lasso’s will move from a purchase to an investment.
NB: When domestic fridges first came on the market in 1921 they cost the same as the then average new motor car. What is that figure today? In the US in 2017 the figure was $33,000. In the UK £29,000. In Australia $28,000. In just ten years from 1921, 1 million US households (or 3.5% of a total of 28 million households) had purchased a fridge. If the same performance figures are applied to Lassos that would mean that in the ten years from the launch of Lasso appliances 5 million people will own one!
Once launched the advantages of owning a Lasso machine will include:
The Lasso sensors can determine whether a used-container or used material loaded into the appliance is closed-loop recyclable. Using NIR spectroscopy it can determine if a plastic is PET or HDPE. With optical sensing your Lasso can determine if the plastic container is clear or cloudy or is colored. It can determine if the cap and or tamper evident bands (TEBs) or tamper rings are still attached to the container. It can determine different colors of glass containers so it can stream the container into the correct glass color stream.
The sensors will also read the barcode to determine who is the manufacturer so Lassos can deliver extended producer responsibility (EPR) to FMCG companies.
The sensors will also determine if a bottle bill deposit is returnable.
The Lasso sensors ensure that containers with the cap and tamper evident bands (TEBs) or tamper rings still attached will not be accepted. The cap will need to be screwed off by the operator. There is an easy-to-use TEB removal mechanism at the front of the appliance. A similar mechanism will be provided to remove the lead-metal neck and metal TEB from glass bottles.
Subject to householder consumption, between three and eight times a year is the current estimate.
Lasso Loop will empty your PSC. The appliance will give you due warning that one of the containers in the PSC is getting full. By pulling out the PSC – think of pulling out a draw – your Lasso knows that you want a collection and a collection vehicle call (SMS) is logged with Lasso’s central logistic hub. Via the Lasso app you will select the collection times offered. The Lasso app will operate in a similar fashion to an Uber or Lyft app. However, it will be easier since Lasso already knows your agreed collection spot and the delivery destination for your closed-loop recycled products.
Subject to the amount of product and which product that is in your product storage container, we are making every attempt to provide your on-demand home collection service free of charge.
Between 30 and 76 kilos or 66 and 170 lbs. The container is on wheels so it will be easy to move. For those who must go up or down stairs with their full product storage container, there is a bespoke designed trolley available for purchase to assist.
They might! Though the PSC will be identifiable and trackable by GPS. To gain access to the products, the PSC will need to be smashed. Immediately the products will be contaminated, and they will lose the cash value. If the thief can empty the PSC without reducing purity, the small volume of each of the seven products means the thief will need to arrange several transactions. There will be much easier and more valuable things that can be readily transacted to cash in the pub.
A draw will open into which you place your used-container. You will push the draw closed. If the container passes the Lasso sensor-test, you will do nothing more. If it does not pass the sensor test, the Lasso will return the container to you.
Your Lasso will have filters which will need cleaning when advised by the appliance Also from time to time, you will need to load detergent as advised.
Your Lasso will be as noisy as the fast spin cycle on your washing machine. This only occurs when a glass bottle is crushed.
Your Lasso will process one container at a time. It will allow three to be loaded one after the other. Then there will be approximately five minutes until the next one can be loaded.
In the first number of years from the first roll-out you will NOT be paid. The rate of uptake of Lassos into households will determine when significant volume of products can be sold at good negotiated prices. When this occurs, we estimate in five to seven years, the amount of used-material, which used-material you load into your Lasso and the sale price of the recycled products produced will determine how much you will be paid.
For many years, we expect the answer to be yes! You will still have to pay your annual fee. We don’t foresee councils and cities giving up this revenue stream willingly until rate payers demand it. Only when there are a good number of rate or tax payers operating Lasso’s in a particular council or city district can we expect councillors to agitate to have the recycling levy credited to Lasso operators.
It depends on what you want to do.
Your Lasso will process between 20 and 30% by weight of your current used-material stream. This 20-30% will represent 70-80% of the environmental and financial value of your used-materials.
Your current recycle bin recycles very little. If you trust that your recycling service actually recycles your paper and cardboard and plastic film, then you may choose to continue with your current recycling bin. Unless you live in an exceptional area, your normal recycling service will “actually” recycle very little of your used paper and cardboard and plastic film. Probably and sadly your best course action is to put these used-materials in your waste bin or trash can.
The latter versions of your Lasso are planning to accept all your paper and cardboard and also all your food scraps. We would like to accept all these beautiful used-materials now, however, Lasso appliances need to crawl before they walk and run by addressing the low hanging fruit.
Subject to the layout and size of your home, you will place your Lasso preferably in your kitchen to gain the most convenience benefit, or your laundry, your garage or outside.
The first Lassos are scheduled to be delivered into homes in late Q4 2022 or Q1 2023.
From Q2 2021 you will be able to pre-purchase a Lasso on-line for priority delivery in late Q4 2022 or Q1 2023.
When you pre-purchase your Lasso you will be given an Advised Delivery Date. This date will vary subject to where you live.
If after pre-purchase and after the Advised Delivery Date you have not had your Lasso delivered, you will be able to accept a revised offered later delivery date, ask for a 100% refund or convert your pre-purchase into Lasso Loop Recycling Ltd shares.
You will be able to buy your Lasso on-line. $0-Reservations will commence in October 2020. In order of making your $0-Reservation you will be given the opportunity to pre-purchase your Lasso.
Subject to where you live, there will be variations in your purchase price. At this stage, in the US, the planned first roll-out area, the Lasso purchase price is forecast to be between a top-of-the-range dishwasher and an entry-level premium fridge. An estimate is between US$3,500 and US$4,500.
It will be safer than operating your washing machine or your dishwasher.
Your Lasso will be maintained by organisations who currently maintain your household appliances. Your Lasso app will provide you with a direct link to your available maintenance organisations.
The products will be clear PET flakes, cloudy HDPE flakes, three colours – brown green and clear - of glass cullet, shredded steel and aluminium cans.
As soon as practicably possible, your Lasso will add used-plastic film, used-paper, used-cardboard and house green (food) scraps. Each module to process a different used-material adds cost and size to the Lasso. And these used-materials at the moment have very little resale value as recycled material. That is changing slowly.
Your Lasso will sense it as not an acceptable used-material and will return it for you to remove. In the case of oatmeal or chicken, you will need to ensure the loading tray is cleaned of such material before the sensors will accept used-containers and used-materials.
When you load a used-container that qualifies for a bottle deposit into your Lasso, the Lasso sensor will identify the qualifying characters on the container label and advise you audibly and also from the read-out on the appliance. Your bottle deposits tally will be stored by your Lasso. Once your products are collected, and transferred into the Lasso product collection vehicle, your deposits will be available to be credited to you to your agreed payment receipt bank or PayPal account.
This is a short question. The explanation of the answer is not so short.
When you load Lasso accepted closed-loop recyclable used-containers and used-materials into your Lasso, they will be processed to products – plastic flakes, crushed glass and shredded metals - that can become the input to manufacture new containers or new products. Your Lasso manufacturing inputs replace inputs produced from virgin materials.
The virgin materials include – crude oil for plastics, silica from sand, limestone, soda ash for glass, bauxite for aluminum and iron ore, metallurgical coal and limestone or dolomite.
The mining and extraction process to produce these virgin materials emit carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions, normally measured in tonnes or kilograms of CO2 .
The transport of the ores from mines to large factories, mostly by ocean going ships burning dirty fuel, emits additional CO2e emissions.
The processes, for example; refining of crude oil and down-stream chemical plants to produce plastics, melting of silica, limestone and soda ash in furnaces to produce glass, processing bauxite to alumina and smelting of alumina for aluminum and iron ore, metallurgical coal and limestone or dolomite for blast furnace product of pig iron before the steel making process, all emit substantial amounts of CO2e emissions.
The mining and extraction plus transport plus processing to produce the manufacturing inputs for containers emit much more carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions than when your Lasso products are used as the inputs to make new containers.
This substantial difference in CO2e emissions can be tallied up per each different container you load into your Lasso to produce a Total Close-Loop CO2e Emissions Reduction for the life-time that you operate your Lasso.
The manufacture of your Lasso, your operation (eg. electricity if not produced from renewables) and maintenance (eg. vehicle emissions for the repair technician) of the Lasso and its eventual disposal (hopefully mostly closed-loop recycled in a de-manufacturing plant) emit CO2e emissions to produce a Total Lasso CO2e Emissions.
The Total Lasso CO2e Emissions is a positive number. Now subtract Total Close-Loop CO2e Emissions Reduction and you have a NEGATIVE number because the Total Close-Loop CO2e Emissions Reduction is larger than the Total Lasso CO2e Emissions.
The Lasso sensors will only allow used-materials that can be closed-loop recycled to be accepted. Further the Lasso-accepted used-materials will only be those where there is a sufficient financial value of the products produced to make the processing of them financially viable and self-sustaining.
The only products that are financially viable and self-sustaining are those that are purchased as inputs to manufacturing processes.
For example, below is a list of the plastics used for products or packaging we purchase:
#1 - PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) ...
#2 - HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) ...
#3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) ...
#4 – LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) ...
#5 – PP (Polypropylene) ...
#6 – PS (Polystyrene) ...
#7 – Other (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN).
At the moment, the only plastics that we are sure can be closed-loop recycled are #1 - PET and #2 – HDPE. Please note, colored PET and HDPE are not closed-loop recycled. Hence, your Lasso sensors will only accept your clear PET and cloudy HDPE.
Following versions of Lassos may include a mixed-plastic stream. This stream will include colored #1 - PET and #2 – HDPE and clear and colored #4 – LDPE (mostly in the form of film) and #5 – PP. Together these plastics can be recycled. They can be a clean input-feed for chemical recycling processes that are being developed. These processes return the plastics to their original building blocks, light crude oil and waxes. Currently, these processes are not economic and will require government pricing support frameworks.
Note, #3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), #6 – PS (Polystyrene) and #7 – Other (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN) are not recycled because they can't be. There is every likelihood that in the coming years, plastics made of these substances will not be allowed on the market.
Considering the complexity of pieces of equipment that we extensively use the Lasso appliance is more complex than your refrigerator and very much less complex than your motor car.
Your refrigerator has about 1,200 parts. Your Lasso is estimated to have 2,000 parts. Your motor vehicle has about 30,000 parts.
The industry description of how long an appliance lasts is called the Mean Time Till Failure or MTF. The lowest grade of a washing machine for example will have an MTF of 6,000 hours whilst the highest will easily exceed 10,000 hours of use.
The first Lasso model will aim for a MTF of around 7,000 hours. If the appliance was used for two hours a day, every day – which seems a long time - on average the Lasso will last ten years.
In the first five years, the Lasso appliance will recycle three used materials plastic, glass and metal. After five years, it is expected that the Lasso will extend its recycling capability to include organic food scraps, plastic film and possibly paper and cardboard. Hence, for the early purchasers, there is a likelihood they will upgrade to the later models well before their first Lasso reaches its MTF.
At the heart of the prototype design and then the ensuing appliance design and Pilot Phase will be circular economy principles including de-manufacturing at end of life.
The components of the prototype and following appliance will be manufactured mostly from metals to around 90% by weight. The largest metal content will be steel followed by stainless steel. Roughly 40% of steel is recycled giving a first order of magnitude of the amount of recycled material content.
Being at the prototype development stage, we have not yet made decisions on the materials for the final appliance. The issue of what recycled plastic can be used relates to the quality of the recycled plastics. This is a catch-22 situation. Assuming the quality is to a level that ensures safety of operation and reliability of performance, we will definitely decide for recycled products for the manufacture of components.
These decisions are all part of the prototype and then Pilot PhasePilot Phase development. Hence, we do not yet have any supporting documents.
For comparison, owners of domestic solar panel installations can expect a return on investment of 5-10 years when considering both energy not drawn from and sold back to the grid.
At this pre-prototype stage it is still difficult to estimate the sale price of a Lasso appliance planned to be first rolled-out in the US in Q4 2022. A sale price will be affordable for this proposed initial target market, between a top-end dishwasher and entry level premium fridge.
From the first roll-out, the sale value of recycled products (ReProducts) after cost should be sufficient to provide a free home emptying-pickup service. Subject to household consumption habits, there will be a smaller or larger amount of bottle deposit refund to the household in those jurisdictions that operate bottle deposit systems.
After approximately three years, the confirmed longevity of the appliance should mean that finance companies will offer hire-purchase and lease funding arrangements, that will reduce the upfront cash outlay. After some years due to scale and manufacturing efficiencies the appliance sale price will reduce. Likewise, again due to scale and efficiencies, the logistics cost per collection will reduce.
As the number of Lasso appliances increase and there is increased closed-loop products produced, the sale value of the ReProducts will gradually increase under the influence of improving commercial negotiating power. Depending on the government jurisdiction, there are a range of government incentives for recycled products. An example is the Quality Incentive Payments for the beneficiation of recycled plastics and glass cullet available in California.
When a household operates a Lasso, depending on the location, the household will be able to discontinue its recycling bin service. This is unlikely to occur for a long time in locations where recycling service cost is included in a lump sum property rates and taxes levied.
The sale price of recycled products in three or four years time will depend on a number of factors. For many years to come, close-loop recycled plastic prices will be related to the price of virgin plastic pellets which are subject to the variations of the crude oil price. Taxes on packaging which does not have a set amount of recycled content, for example like those announced by the UK Chancellor in last years budget, will influence the sale price of the Lasso products in the UK, especially the plastics.
Within ten years of the first full scale roll-out, under the conditions of a number of assumptions, there seems a likelihood that Lassos will provide a fair and reasonable reimbursement to households for their ReProducts. When this reimbursement is achieved, there is a good potential that Lasso appliances can be provided to households for a small upfront charge or service fee in return for receiving all the ReProducts without any reimbursement.
There are a number of other factors that will influence the answer to your payback period and ROI question. With our current understanding, we expect the factors explained above to be the major determinants of any ROI calculation.
Please may I answer the simple questions first?
Noise – less than the 1400 rpm spin cycle on your clothes washing machine.
Odour – the same as your dishwasher or clothes washing machine.
Magnitudes less efficient if you are talking about material throughput like a waste system, then yes such a district processing plant is very efficient. However, if a high level of substance purity is required, which is a must-have for closed-loop recycled products, the many orders of magnitudes of higher value proposition are firstly and only delivered by high-purity. If low-purity high-volume worked with the current recycling systems, the UK closed-loop recycling levels of say PET, the most recycled plastic, would be in the order of 30%, where in fact today it is closer to 0% than 30%. If low-purity high-volume district processing is so efficient, why is this material still shipped off to south-east Asian countries? By any fair and reasonable assessment, simply the current domestic recycling system is not efficient and does not work.
We wish we could simply answer the sale price question. But we cannot. Lassos will be a value proposition decision and not just an appliance purchase price decision. To date we have only investigated the manufacturing appliance costs in the US, because that is where we plan the first roll-out. And these costs vary significantly subject to what is or is not included in the Lasso appliance. For example, does it make sense – environmentally, financially and benefits-wise – to have the plastic wash cycle deliver food and beverage quality plastic flakes? Is the cost benefit – higher appliance cost verses higher closed-loop product sale value and higher environmental benefit – worthwhile or not? We wish we could answer the question. Until we have done the planned prototype work, we are not in position to answer these cost-benefit value-proposition type questions, which will have a very significant influence on the purchase price.
However, our initial indications – across significant ranges – are that the benefits and value proposition in the US will be affordable for our early-adopting affluent-household initial target market. This statement is based on the average annual spend by affluent-households on new domestic appliances, other financial benefits and the current value they seem to give to environmental benefits.
The US value proposition will depend on a number of factors. The purchase price of the appliance of course. The cash amount of bottle deposit returns (or DRS in the UK) refunded. This value delivery does not exist in the UK yet. The US$ amount saved from discontinuing the current recycling service. This cannot be done in the UK yet. The amount reimbursed to the household from the closed-loop recycled products. In the US, we don’t yet know with sensible accuracy, the average weight of potential recycled product produced in an affluent US household nor the product sale prices. We have ranges of seven weights and seven product sale prices, however they are wide. If both the lowest product weight forecasts and the lowest sale price forecast eventuate, then the Lasso cash value proposition, over and above the convenience, time-saving and environmental benefit, will be minimal. If on the other hand, it is the highest and the highest, the cash value proposition is dramatic. At this early prototype stage with little information, we are unsure where to guess here.
We are confident Lassos will be affordable for the early UK adopters when Lasso are first rolled-out. By then, we will have a better idea of the UK appliance manufacturing costs and therefore sale price, the UK DRS cash returns assuming the system is operating, average weights of used-materials and the product sale prices. What recycled material sale price uplift will result from the Chancellor Hammond announced proposed tax on packaging material that does not contain 30% of recycled packaging? Subject to answers to these questions at UK Lasso roll-out time, there is a likelihood that many Lassos in the UK may never be purchased by households as an appliance to own. They may be offered with an annual service fee charge and there would be no cash reimbursement to the household for the closed-loop product produced.
"My initial thought is that for everyone to have one of these in their homes would mean you have to make an awful lot of them and therefore use an awe full lot of resources. Have you thought about making larger ones so that shops, cafes, petrol stations, trains, airports etc had them? We also need to start sharing more as well as recycling. I love the idea though and am very interested."
– In regards to larger units, this is a very good point and it is something we considered carefully. There is a very sensible argument for commercial placement both from a shared resource standpoint (i.e. local collection points) and also that these businesses often have a lot of materials going through them that have great potential for benefiting from efficient collection. From our initial market explorations we anticipate the early adopters to be private individuals and so our route to market begins with a domestic appliance.
You're also right in that the resources which go into the machine have to be taken into consideration, and the designs ensure its manufacture, use and indeed its own end of life, doesn't compromise it's carbon negative credentials.
We have done an initial assessment of the carbon footprint due to appliance operation during its life, manufacture and distribution, repair and maintenance and recycling at end of the appliance’s life. We have done a comparison of the carbon footprint reduced due to the creation of close-loop recycled products compared to creation of a product with one use and then landfilled. The reduced footprint due to closed-loop recycled products is estimated to be larger than the operation, manufacture and so on of the appliance. Hence, over the life of the appliance, initial estimates suggest the Lasso appliance will be carbon negative. This takes into consideration the energy and CO2 saved when manufacturing containers from closed-loop recycled materials, compared to containers manufactured from virgin materials.
The appliance only accepts what is closed-loop recyclable. It accepts and checks one item at a time. When you load the close-loop recyclable container into the appliance, one at a time, you are not loading “garbage” into it. If you or I mix up multiple different materials together then yes you and I have decided to create garbage or waste.
Being at the pre-prototype stage is at a riskier stage of projects than after the prototype has been built and tested, which is reflected in the equity on offer. As we are at the pre-prototype stage, we cannot provide you with the performance of our prototype or its limitations yet. We look forward to sharing that information with you when we do have it.
Using the appliance is a bit like loading your dishwasher, except you load each used-container or used-material into the appliance. A sensor chamber in the device will identify each used-container or used-material and it will be processed into its identified stream. It is this separation of material upon loading that ensures 100% purity of processed materials. That keeps the different materials separate while they are washed, ground to flakes, crushed to glass cullet or shredded if metal and stored separately by the appliance.
There will be seven different dedicated materials and colors – 1. clear PET plastic, 2. cloudy HDPE (milk containers) plastic, 3. brown glass bottles, 4. green glass bottles, 5. clear glass bottles, 6. steel-tin cans and 7. aluminum cans.
Therefore, for example, if you load PVC into the appliance, there will be an error message, verbal and text, and the appliance will return the item to you. It will not be accepted into the appliance.
The contaminated water will be similar in makeup to the waste water in a kitchen dishwasher. Because the labels are washed off, the water filter system will be more rigorous than the dishwashing water filter system.
It is our goal to have an internal water recycling system and we have already commenced investigations for a potential unit. This will require more investigation and design work in the coming prototype development. For the initial production roll-out, it will come down to a trade-off between water saving, space availability and cost. If there is no water recycling system included in the first production version, then the waste water quality will be similar to your dishwasher waste water quality and most likely cleaner than your washing machine waste water. The amount of water used by a Lasso appliance will be less than 3% of the normal household consumption.
The amount of power required will be similar to the amount of power required for a hot water washing machine cycle. It is envisaged that a household that uses a dishwasher approximately once a day will operate their Lasso appliance, subject to consumption habits, two and possibly three times a week. We have done an initial assessment of the carbon footprint due to appliance operation during its life, its manufacture and distribution, its repair and maintenance and recycling it at end of the appliance’s life. We have done a comparison of the carbon footprint reduced due to the creation of close-loop recycled products compared to creation of a product with one use and then landfilled. The reduced footprint due to closed-loop recycled products is estimated to be larger than the operation, manufacture and so on of the appliance. Hence, over the life of the appliance, initial estimates suggest the Lasso appliance will be carbon negative. This represents the energy saved when manufacturing a container from closed-loop recycled materials compared to a container manufactured from virgin materials.
See the answer to question 38.
The Lasso appliance has more moving and wear parts than other domestic household appliances and consequently will have a higher level of maintenance required. We will design for the same maintenance level as a household dishwasher. In the early versions, we may not achieve that design goal but this will improve with subsequent iterations.
Subject to a household’s consumption habits, we estimate the number of household collections will be between three and eight times a year. You will be advised as the levels of each of the storage bins and, when one is full, you can order a Lasso dedicated curbside pickup from your Lasso smartphone app.
The process for disengaging the product storage container (PSC) from the bottom third of the appliance will be like pulling out your pot and pan drawer. As you do so, four roller-wheels will drop down allowing you to wheel the PSC to the agreed location on the curb. Moving the PSC will be like a large suitcase you take to the plane or train. It will be lower and, subject to the which closed-loop products are in the unit, possibly heavier. After the service has emptied the contents of your PSC, you will return the PSC to the bottom of your appliance.
The maintenance and cleaning required will be like a household dishwasher, except there are additional items. The Lasso appliance has wearing parts to size reduce plastics to flakes and metals to shreds. Initial investigations and testing indicate that the resultant wear rate will require that parts will not need to be replaced over the operating life of the appliance.
The appliance will be hygienic and odorless. The appliance operation is similar to a dishwasher; hence the hygienic and health standards will be equivalent.
The competitors are the current domestic recycling services. They are providing the system you have used for many years, whether that’s a local pickup, curbside collection, mixed recycling or separated.
The filed patents cover the equipment and process as described above. Yes, the patents are in the public domain in the countries we have filed them.
Achieving 100% purity of materials is almost impossible at bulk level ‒ there is simply too much to sort through! Either they employ manual checkers or they use machines to check items. Both options increase the cost dramatically while still suffering from the occasional error. Just 0.05% of PVC in a PET load will spoil the recycled material, for example.
Despite fantastic equipment developed over decades in today’s most advanced materials recovery facilities (MRF), the mixed material and contaminated recycling stream cannot produce enough high purity product.
The goal of Lasso is to empower individuals to achieve 100% separation of materials. The sensor provides the reassurance that all materials are correctly separated while the cleaning, grinding and packing elements make it more hygienic and convenient to store recycled materials. This puts 100% purity within reach without dramatically increasing the cost while providing additional convenience for appliance owners.
The 2027 figures are projections produced by extrapolating US 2015 Census household income for “affluent households” in specific urban areas of major US metropolitan areas to provide the target number of households. From the US Expenditure of Affluent US Households on Household Appliances in the last 12 months of 2016 we forecast an annual purchases figure. The regional areas selected are in US states that operate bottle deposits, since Lasso’s plan to process bottle deposits in your kitchen. The specific urban areas have been selected for the logistic ease, highway access etc, of operating the Lasso home collection. Four specific urban areas have been identified. The rollouts will be staggered.
The proposed size of the appliance is a similar depth and width to a kitchen dishwasher. The proposed height will be 20 cms (8 inches higher).
Based on our forecasts, from the early months, the sale value of the products picked up will be marginally above the costs of collection and associated logistics. Hence, we propose to offer a free-pickup service.
The Lasso model will not require expensive pick-up vehicles like those needed by existing domestic recycling systems. Lasso’s cost-effective solution is an owner-supplied SUV (4-wheel drive) towing a minimal cost-trailer (roughly the volume of a horse float) with seven bins and a hydraulically operated product storage container (PSC) pickup and emptying (which includes weighing) mechanism. We have planned for one trailer being towed by more than one owner-supplied vehicle in any one day. The hand-over location will be as agreed between drivers.
".....rather than calling out the same collection team the following week or day?) - possibly only triggered if any of their bins are more than 25% full?"
Excellent suggestion, thank you! We would need to check what percentage full the product storage container (PSC) would need to be to make both collections to be financially break-even. A smart phone would not be needed to know this situation. My initial thought it would need to be somewhat over 25% full.
"....I know there is little recycling of anything other than PET, but there are further recycling schemes which currently exist for carrier bags, wax cartons (tetrapak) and even crisp packets. Perhaps you could look to partner with someone like MacRebur who recycle plastic particulate for use in road building - as that would presumably allow for some of the stronger plastics?"
It is hard to obtain accurate figures, though clear PET plastics (water, Coke-Pepsi bottles etc) and cloudy HDPE plastics (milk bottle) make up around 80% of the domestic plastic packaging consumed. Already, there are developed markets for high-quality recycled PET & HDPE plastics in the places Lasso proposes to roll-out in the US. Hence in the early stages, to ensure the sale value of the ReProducts® collected will be marginally above the collection logistic cost we need to focus on these more voluminous and valuable plastics. As quickly as financially sustainable, Lasso proposes to extend the plastics to include either a mixed-plastic stream and or a dedicated plastic film (LDPE) stream. In speaking with Tetrapak recently, they are proposing a new design of recyclable cartons to replace their current very difficult to recycle wax-metal lined cartons.
While there are schemes for recycling glass, much of the glass cullet is made up of mixed colors. Hence, curbside recycled glass on the US West Coast has been a cost for years. Recently, I noted in the north-eastern US states serviced by NERC, the landfill fee (transport etc. costs to be added on top) for glass cullet has risen to over US$80 per short ton. However, color pure, contaminate-free (metal, pyrex & organics free) glass cullet is sold for over US$110 per short ton. This is the Lasso target market for glass cullet.
"....or service fee in return for receiving all the ReProducts without any reimbursement" - in reality this needs to be in place before the product is placed on the market?"
We will certainly work extremely hard to get these agreements as soon as we possibly can. As you suggest, it would be fantastic if we could supply the appliances for a low cost and live off the ReProducts® sale value. However, our forecasts do not allow for this to occur until down the track a few years from first roll-out. In the early years we will need to rely on “affluent US households” judging convenience benefits and time saving value to add to the environmental “feel good” factor to get us over the valley-of-death.
"....I do not mean to be so bold to suggest you haven't thought about it, but is there a possibility that the app/website could post a public route and a user could choose whether or not to add their stop to the existing route? Say I notice my glass bin is 60% full. While it doesn't HAVE to be picked up right now, I could look on the app and see that someone in my neighborhood is having a pickup in three days and tag my location to be included in the existing route. OR a user could put a flag on their account when their bin gets, say, 75% full and then a notification could be sent when a route is created to notify the household that there will be pickups available in the next day/week if they would like to take advantage of that. Again, not to be so bold as to assume you haven't thought of this (again, the app is an amazing idea, so you obviously have it well-thought out), but just a suggestion for logistics. Good luck!"
We know we have not started to scratch the surface of the potential for working smarter. For example, we expect the Lasso app together with the IOT, subject to any privacy issues, to be able to message a household nearby the proposed collection route that has enough closed-loop ReProduct® in their product storage container (PSC) to justify a cost-effective collection service. Alternatively, as you suggest, a householder will be able to be proactive and put a collection service flag on their account.
Please note that with current home delivery and pickup systems, from the time the driver leaves his or her vehicle to deliver or pick up a parcel at a home or business to the time he or she returns to the driver’s seat, the next delivery or pickup destination may have changed subject to the latest information received on the internet connected dispatching system. Dispatching the next Lasso collection service will use a similar system.
We will optimize every LCA parameter of the Lasso process, and the Lasso logistics system is definitely one. There is some further reading in this blog written by our Head of Technology, Phil Sanders, and we would be happy to provide you with more info.
"....in that the overwhelming majority of content for my recycle bin is now cardboard from boxed deliveries and other paper or board from packaging. Additionally, supermarkets and retailers generally are beginning to move away from plastic containers and plastic carrier bags and this trend will no doubt escalate. This suggests that local authorities will need to continue their waste collection services for recyclable materials. Another move is towards charging for bottles with refund through return bottle collection machines as is highly successful in Norway. Can you address how these developments impinge upon your vision for the future of domestic recyclable materials."
Our vision for the future of domestic recycling materials is to close-loop recycle as much of the used-materials as possible. Initially we are targeting plastic (PET & HDPE), glass (brown, green and clear) and steel-tin and aluminum cans. As soon as possible and subject to market and regulatory developments, we would want to add plastic film (LDPE), paper, cardboard and organics.
We are targeting the approximately 20-30% by weight of used domestic materials that make up over 70-80% of the potential recycled products sale value. Yes. We are cherry picking and targeting the low-hanging fruit. However, what we are targeting is those used-materials that can be closed-loop recycled. And when a household produces the closed-loop recyclable product, they should be rewarded with more than just the convenience, time saving and environmental “feel good” benefits. They should also be financially rewarded. This is the Lasso goal.
You mention paper and cardboard. It is very difficult to find figures on the amount or household paper and cardboard that is closed-loop recycled, let alone recycled or downcycled. Because of the low “recycled” cash value, the amount recycled is likely to be lower than the much more valuable closed-loop recyclable materials like PET & HDPE plastics. In the UK, either 7% or 14% of consumer PET is closed-loop recycled. The 100% discrepancy in the two percentages is due to different figures quoted by two reputable industry sources. With this knowledge of PET figures, without knowing for sure, it is most likely that not much of your domestic paper and cardboard is closed-loop recycled. Some may be downcycled. However, the vast majority would not be recycled. Very disappointedly and I do not like saying it, it would be more efficient and more cost effective if your domestic paper and cardboard was placed in the waste bin.
Industry recycling of cardboard is a different subject and very successful recycling is in place. It is successful because used-cardboard in factories and businesses is kept separate after use, delivering high-purity, and is then separately picked up. This is the same concept that underpins the Lasso domestic recycling system.
Supermarkets and FMCG product manufacturers have talked about reducing plastic use for decades now. Similarly, over the years, some of the biggest named multinational companies commit to various environment targets. When the commitment date is in sight and there is no chance of delivering on the commitment, they move the commitment goal posts and kick the commitment date down the road. There have been several recent commitments, prominent in the media, made by multinationals to deliver future recycling outcomes by 2025. As with previous commitments, the likelihood of achieving these commitments is low especially if they cannot enunciate a clear commitment delivery pathway now.
Reverse vending machines (RVM) have been in operation for decades in many places including many European countries, a small number of US states and one Australian state. These machines improve the amount of recyclable material collected and improve the quality of the used-material input stream to a materials recovery facility. Except for the recycling claims made by Norway, in other countries, the RVMs have not delivered closed-loop recycling percentages for say PET above 30%, and then only in limited regions. The EU countries and US PET closed-loop recycling percentage stand at 9% and 6% respectively. After decades in operation RVMs still have some significant improvement to make. RVMs have several additional drawbacks. Convenience and cost are two. Assuming the Norway closed-loop recycling figures are correct, the country is a clear outlier. We have looked at the Infinitum 2016 report on recycling in Norway, but it does not include a closed-loop (bottle back to bottle) recycling figure.
The official Government recycling numbers published in Australia are questionable. The PET recycling figures in the UK are contested, producing a 100% difference. For some years now, PETCore has stopped publishing its European PET bottles recycled back to bottles figures. The 2016 Infinitum Annual Report does not document its headline bottle back to bottle figures.
The current domestic waste systems are fantastic. Disappointedly, the current domestic recycling systems are not built for purpose and are unlikely to ever achieve closed-loop recycling levels higher than what they have achieved today.
The key to recycling is to maximise material purity as quickly and as cheaply as possible. This concept underpins the Lasso process.
Please note, the questioner on the Crowdcube crowdfunding platform responded as follows:
"Most grateful for the time taken to fully address the thrust of the points raised. I have to say I have been most impressed with your thorough engagement on this forum and I am sure this will be repaid with a successful fundraise. I wish you every success in fulfilling your transformative vision for household recycling.........a massive and long term project.........a recycling plant in every household........I wonder!"
"....Especially when you base your argument off of the statistic that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050, the geographic implications of this statistic doesn't seem to be addressed in the plan. It is well-known by now that most of the ocean plastic is sourced from 10 major rivers, 8 of which are in Asia. These Asian countries are disproportionately burdened by the world's trash and do not have the capacity to properly dispose of or recycle it, thereby leading to environmental degradation of both their own environments as well as the communal resources of lakes, rivers, and oceans. What is your logic for implementing this project in California where there is already such a high recycling conscientiousness as opposed to helping develop economies in countries that are actually suffocating under their plastic pollution?
Second (in response to the philosophical side of the issue), what is your counterargument to the idea that this might further perpetuate the plastic economy by making in more viable rather than looking at methods to reduce our reliance on plastic consumption? For example, at Uni, I organized a recycling competition between residence halls only to realize afterwards that I was targeting the wrong message- is the goal to recycle more, or to reduce the waste we generate in the first place? Just curious where you stand on this issue as far as long-term scope and whether or not the overall recycling/plastics economy is on its way towards obsolete rather than something like a circular recycling economy."
Dougie82 added to JHanson’s questions:
"I (Dougie82) think you (JHanson) have raised some pertinent questions there! I recall my time in Nepal where we drove past a dump on the way to a historic town, said dump was on a river that feeds the Ganges, the volume of plastic waste entering the river from such sites is colossal... though I also think we can do far more individually at a local level and you are absolutely correct the first action we should be taking is a reduction in the amount of plastic we use. How could the technology be deployed to countries that can be identified as high plastic polluters - and made affordable, accessible or a viable business opportunity?"
JHanson responded to Dougie:
"Thank you for your response! After thinking about it, I did realize perhaps my criticisms were a little bit too harsh. Or, at least, I forgot to validate and appreciate the effort of this program before tearing it down (sorry Lasso!!) Of course I can't speak for Lasso, but I would hope that launching in a market such as California where recycling is already a huge priority/concern would allow them to build enough rapport/capital where they could expand their services to some of these other countries that might benefit from a technology like this. I would hope that once a company like this gets well enough established, some of its CSR initiatives might be to engage with these other communities that aren't afforded the same privileges as wealthy Californian homes. But, the issue too is having something that would require energy in a rural setting, where many of these plastic dumps may be...so, logistically, might not be the project for Lasso.
As for limiting individual consumption at a local level...that's a huge beast to tackle. Figuring out how to change cultural values and habits of convenience and disposal is a huge challenge right now. But, as someone recently reminded me, "Waste" as a concept was invented by humans and now is the time for us to de-invent it...so, good luck to all of us with that!"
We see the important factor for recycling anywhere in the world is closed-loop recycling. Closed-loop recycling is a key ingredient to delivering the circular economy. Closed-loop recycling will be self-sustaining from a financial and environmental perspective.
Lasso needs a three to seven-year runway from first roll-out to tighten up every aspect of the Lasso system so we can deliver a business model whereby we offer the appliances and equipment at a low annual service fee, and in return we pickup-empty the closed-loop recycled products (ReProduct®) with no commitment to reimburse the householder for its value.
For an explanation of ReProduct®, please read this blog entry.
This “service cost only & no ReProduct® reimbursement” business model can work in all places in the world which cannot yet afford the upfront appliance purchase price nor the reduced first three or four-year lease or hire purchase financing charges.
The key to the tightening process is to maximise the sale value of the ReProduct® to ensure that the value transfers across state and country borders. We envisage the sale price of ReProduct® will be enhanced by increased volume and reliability of the supply of consistently high purity products. Additionally, and in parallel, more governments around the world may support closed-loop recycling product prices, following the lead of US States like California already does and what the EU and UK governments have committed to do in future years. The higher the ReProduct® sale prices and the quicker they eventuate, the quicker Lasso can roll out the “service cost only & no ReProduct® reimbursement” business model.
Much of the plastic contributing to waste plastic in the oceans may come from non-western country rivers and creeks in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh etc. Developed economies are not suffocating under their own plastic pollution. Why? Because we export our waste plastic to the pre-mentioned countries. As confirmed by Liz Bonin’s documentaries on the BBC in the UK, much of the plastic waste originates from co-mingled recycling bins in developed countries. Our waste plastic ends up in these countries because it is cheaper per tonne to ship the stuff there than pay local transport costs and landfill fees. And additionally, transport costs and landfill fees per tonne are lower than processing the plastic waste for recycling.
The developing economies are not suffocating under their own plastic pollution but rather the plastic that is being shipped as exports from the West. The majority of these exports originate from co-mingled recycling bins as there is little to no financial value to materials collected in this manner. The Lasso model is to perform the recycling at the source, adding value through the processing which allows the materials to be remanufactured domestically rather than shipping it thousands of miles away where it contributes to plastic pollution.
Only maximised closed-loop recycling product sale prices can financially incentivise the uptake of closed-loop recycling in preference to local transport & landfill fees and exports. To date, the consumers we judge who will purchase the first roll-out Lasso appliances taking us through the valley of death period and underwriting our tightening years are the more affluent, more environmentally conscientious household residents in the US state which has world-leading recycling support systems. CalReCycle’s container return value (CRV) system and its Quality Incentive Payments (statute of California section 14581) for beneficiation per ton of recycled material are examples of California’s recycling support systems.
California is geographically closest to the plastic island in the Pacific Ocean. The popular beach culture due to the thousands of miles of once pristine sandy beaches must now be shared with plastic litter.
This is part of our logic. We would welcome sharing more of it with you. If you wish, please let’s discuss it soon.
"....by making it more viable rather than looking at methods to reduce our reliance on plastic consumption?"
The philosophical side of this issue is to allow glass to be on an equal footing with plastic. For that to occur, glass must not just be 100% recyclable – but 100% closed-loop recycled. When this occurs, there is every likelihood that it would be clear that glass is a much superior product to plastic.
Plastics have taken over from glass because packaging does not yet include the cost of externalities. Hence, because plastic is factors lighter than glass, the plastic industry has pushed that lightness delivers transport savings. This is questionable. Firstly, take for example a drink product – when delivered to supermarkets, the transport charge or costs would be based on volume, not on weight. They are not bulk products like coal or iron-ore. Secondly, a full bottle of Coca-Cola in a glass bottle might be, at most, 15% heavier than a full plastic bottle.
The question then becomes, does this marginal difference in weight overcome the 100% closed-loop recyclability of glass compared to the much less recyclability of plastics?
The next question is, is the environmental cost of a plastic bottle in the environment more or less damaging than a glass bottle in the environment? The answer is surely that glass, being completely inert, is environmentally better.
As a note to interested readers, JHanson wrote the follow, after receiving Lasso’s response:
"Thank you so much for answering my questions so intelligently and with well-supported responses! Your outlook definitely makes a lot of sense and I can now better understand the purpose for the system and the intended consequences/changes it is intending to support and establish. I love it! Thank you for all the work answering these questions (I know we must be giving you a headache!) I look forward to supporting your company, and good luck moving forward!"