Wisdom Passion Advocacy

John Phillips OAM. Director, CDSA

Community development is at the heart of all that John Phillips does.

As a young man he joined Apex Australia and such was his commitment to his local, and eventually national and international community that he was elected as the National President  and then became the President of the World Council of Young Men’s Service Clubs (WCYMSC)

Completing his term with (WCYMSC), he sought a future in the world of non-government organisations (NGOs). Ironically, he was not specifically seeking a future in the environmental, sustainability, recycling sector. In his own words, he never had an environmental bone in his body.

It just happened that KESAB had a vacancy and KESAB is an NGO. Thus, a 30 year relationship began and continues to this day.

His enthusiasm for NGOs is fuelled by his belief that an NGO:

  • can achieve results faster than a government organisation
  • has a dedication, an unbridled  passion for the issue at hand and wants to see tangible results
  • can partner with both corporate and government entities to achieve mutually beneficial results

He is a man driven to achieve results, results that impact on the daily lives of Australians and now his influence spreads internationally. KESAB is delivering education programs focussed on environmental sustainability in several countries.

It’s this heartfelt passion for community development, for community capacity building, for galvanising a community to action, that is a remarkable driver in his life.

This passion has seen many projects benefit the environment.

Some of them have been local:

  • Clearing the bottom of the Goolwa Lakes during a period of water restrictions in 2007-2010
  • Discovering the dead and diseased tortoises in the lake and organising school children to rehabilitate them
  • The numerous clean-ups of the Patawalonga Lake 

Some of them have been on a large scale:

  • Creating behavioural change in the whole of the South Australian population. It has, in the space of one generation gone from discarding drink containers to recycling them into remanufactured products.

The most far-reaching results of his passion has been the evolution of KESAB from a small organisation focussed on reducing litter to a strategic player and partner in almost all important environmental issues.

Creating behavioural change across a large community is no easy task. Many pieces of the jigsaw need to fall into place. One part of the jigsaw is an understanding of how the community will respond to the proposed change. John Phillips is often called upon to provide insights into the likely community response to proposed change.

He takes pride in the role he and his organisation play in providing those insights. Insights that have been honed over 30 years at KESAB and in John’s case before he joined KESAB and was working as a country representative for a leather and travel ware business. He developed an understanding of the challenges, an appreciation of the commitment people have to the community, especially people in rural areas.

Those insights, make John a valuable member of the board of Container Deposit Systems Australia (CDSA). It’s one thing to develop an amazing piece of technology. It’s another thing to predict how people, both recycling depot operators and the public, will react to and interact with that technology.

Clearly, John’s insights have proven both valuable and accurate based on the early success of the CDSA technology recently installed in Queensland. They are insights that have been shaped by the history (and he’s been a significant part of that history) of the environmental sustainability sector and they are also shaped by his view of the future.

It’s a bright view of the future, for at least 3 reasons:

  • There are still containers, not captured by container depot legislation. Including more containers under the legislation will increase the return rate.
  • Recycling means a remanufactured product is developed. In John’s future, the quality of remanufactured product will improve and consumers; individual, corporate and government, will be more enthusiastic about purchasing remanufactured products.
  • Technological advances, in both packaging materials and collection and sorting systems, such as the CDSA technology will assist recycling depot operators to achieve even greater efficiencies.

30 years at KESAB means that John has seen container legislation develop from its infancy to the mature position it holds today and he’s excited about the role the CDSA technology will play in driving that legislation even further.

The CDSA technology, according to John will assist the development of even more sophisticated container deposit legislation because of four key factors;

  • accurate counting of returned containers at the point and time of return
  • a cleaner, returned product
  • better remanufactured products
  • the provision of accurate big data to decision makers

Accurate counting

The CDSA technology provides 100% accuracy in the counting of returned containers. Consumers will have no doubt about whether or not their containers have been counted accurately and they’ve received the correct payment. Such accuracy will encourage the public to return their containers and give governments confidence to increase the range of products captured by the legislation.

A cleaner, returned container

The CDSA technology has a 98% accuracy rating in identification of containers into material types; PET, liquid paper cardboard, glass, aluminium. Additionally, the hopper system as the first step in the CDSA technology, allows consumers to remove contaminants ( e.g.straws) from containers, thus providing a cleaner container.

Better manufactured products

Cleaner containers at the point of return mean that remanufactures are able to increase their process efficiencies. The end point of a clean, efficient, remanufacturing process means consumers are more likely to buy remanufactured products,  thus enhancing the whole recycling circle.

Big data

Big data plays an ever-increasing role in the decision making the process of large organizations, both public and private. The CDSA technology provides rigorous reporting of the collection data to monitoring agencies such as Environmental Protection Agencies. They can use quality data, no longer reliant on anecdotal evidence or manually collected data. Rigorous and accurate data allows them to enhance container deposit legislation with confidence.

John Phillips has spent 30 years developing his knowledge of the problems, solutions and dynamics of the environmental sustainability sector. He uses the knowledge wisely.

It’s no surprise his views are in demand and it’s no surprise that he’s excited about the role the CDSA technology will play in enhancing what he sees as his life’s work.

25/1/19 12.08am