In the wake of the global financial crisis, Michael Turner started thinking about the future.
He had spent decades working in the plastics industry and in 2009 bought the plant and equipment from his employer in Tasmania's north-east with managing director Jenny Brown.
But the company's reliance on exports left them vulnerable during the crash, so they decided to do something a little different.
They would break from decades of tradition and use their industry expertise to create plastic products not out of "virgin" material but recycled goods.
"We were able to develop new products, solutions to problems that clients of ours nationally and internationally had identified," Mr Turner said.
The business, Envorinex, now creates new products from old plastics, such as non-contaminated IV bags from hospitals and UPVC window off cuts.
And while not everything they manufacture uses 100 per cent recycled materials, some need to be topped up with fresh ingredients, Mr Turner believes Tasmania can become a national leader in resource recovery.
"The opportunities are huge," he said. "But the moon and the stars need to align for it to actually happen."
ALIGNING THE STARS
The federal government could push some of those stars into place with the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative announced in this year's budget.
The plan is for the government and private sector to co-invest in projects that help manufacturers build economies of scale through collaborations, transform ideas into commercial outcomes or integrate into local and international supply chains.
Recycling was named as a priority area in a plan Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews hoped would "galvanise investment in Australian manufacturing".
It received a warm welcome from the Tasmanian Minerals, Manufacturing and Energy Council and chief executive Ray Mostogl said it would build on the state's manufacturing prowess and align with the culture of "reducing out impact".
"We welcome it as an opportunity to improve our social licence and look after the land we're on," he said.
"Waste, if you don't want it, is a liability."
But whether a relatively small island state like Tasmania can achieve enough scale to make recycling businesses viable remains a concern.
Mr Mostogl said, for example, Tasmania had a number of "stockpiles" of old tyres but "not enough tyre usage to industrify tyre recyclers.
"That's an example of where you either need scale or the capital costs to cut down," he said.
Mr Turner and the Envorinex team were also concerned about scale but believed there was a way to kick the recycling industry into gear: government policy.
"Until the state government legislates that government agencies at both a state and municipal level are required to use prescribed level of recycled product, it will be a push market rather than a pull market," he said.
"And because with a push market the company has to spend money marketing it's message to consumers, it's not very attractive to small and medium business."
While scale remains an unanswered questions, finding untapped waste products is not.
'TINDER FOR WASTE'
Aspire is a new, online matchmaking service that connects waste producers with potential waste consumers.
The platform has been dubbed the 'Tinder for waste' and its success stories include a fruit and vegetable company that stopped spending thousands to send deformed product to landfill after it was 'matched' with a zoo in need of animal feed.
The ultimate goal is to develop a 'circular economy', a system which swaps the 'take, make, break and waste' mentality for a model where old goods, products and materials are constantly reshaped and reformed into new items.
It's a concept that has captured the attention of the Northern Tasmania Development Corporation, which has signed all its member councils up to Aspire.
Chief executive Mark Baker said NTDS sees waste "not just something you bury in landfill but as an unused resource and a potentially high-value resource".
Mr Baker said circular economic opportunities were a "win" for business, because they were either saving money in waste management or selling an unused resource, not to mention a win for the environment.
"And then it's a win for the broader economy, because then if a business is saving money it can invest in more jobs," he said.
Mr Baker said circular economy thinking "fits our competitive advantage and narrative".
He hoped the involvement with Aspire in combination with the $30,000 grants NTDC will give businesses with circular economy initiatives would help prove the concept.
"And that's where Tassie is a the moment," he said.
"We've got to prove the circular economy concept before it become more mainstream and people put their money into it."
The Modern Manufacturing Initiative may also go some way to proving the concept but not everyone is convinced it is targeting the right areas.
THE RIGHT TARGET?
Dulverton Waste Management has been celebrated nationally as a leader in resource recovery and sustainability, with the Latrobe operator named Australia's best at the 2017 Landfill Excellence Awards.
Chief executive Mat Greskie said the industry was "really pleased" investment in recycling was on the federal government's radar.
But he wondered if the manufacturing initiative missed the mark given it failed to cover one of the biggest, unnecessary contributors to landfill: organic waste.
"If you look at your curbside waste bin, 40 per cent of that by weight might be organic," he said.
"While it's great to be looking at all these other waste streams, they represent 5 per cent whereas organics are a big component that can be removed."
Dulverton currently processes around 30 to 40 thousand tonnes of organic material every year and transforms it into compost sold to commercial agricultural operations, nurseries and hobby farms.
The process and gas recovery technology stops rotting food waste and plant matter ending up in landfill and spewing methane into the atmosphere.
Mr Greskie hoped Dulverton could upgrade its operation to process items that mix organic and non-organic material, such as pre-packaged food product that cannot be sold.
And he's hoping for future government initiatives given the huge amount of economic and employment opportunities in recycling.
"It's stated that the waste industry is about a $15 billion a year industry and that's about 2 per cent of the economy," he said.