RMIT graduate on a mission to divert soft plastics from landfill

RMIT graduate on a mission to divert soft plastics from landfill

Meet Pieter Lamb, an RMIT Entrepreneurship graduate with a commitment to sustainability. While at RMIT, Lamb created a new product called the Skrunch-It — an idea that came to life when he noticed a gap in the market for products that promote the convenient recycling of soft plastics.

His solution was the Skrunch-It - a device made from 100% recycled PLA plastics which makes recycling soft plastics a whole lot easier by enabling users to scrunch them into a bag, trapping them in there before they expand and escape.

“By making recycling more convenient for households, we hope it lowers any barriers preventing people from recycling,” Lamb explained.

Lamb said the idea came about through his own frustrating experience of trying to collect and store soft plastics for recycling.

“A couple of years ago when my family started collecting soft plastics to be recycled through the REDcycle program at Coles and Woolies, we found that the actual process of collecting and storing soft plastics was quite a hassle.”

“We had a plastic bag in a small bin to store them but only a few pieces would fit in before they would expand and pop out. Even with a lid, soft plastics could pop the lid off and whenever you wanted to add more, you had to prevent the ones already collected from escaping,Lamb explained.

“After speaking with others, I learned that we weren’t alone with this problem, and the idea for Skrunch-It was born.”

The Skrunch-It is attached to the top of a bin bag and someone is placing a piece of soft plastic inside. The Skrunch-It in Action. Source: Pieter Lamb

Lamb’s simple but innovative product has made the collection of soft plastics much more convenient. All the user has to do is attach the circular device to a drawstring bag and your scrunched wrappers and bags can be easily stored without them escaping.

In May, Lamb won the RAM Group / Brighten Social Impact Award in recognition of his commitment to achieving outstanding social impact, by developing an aid that helps to divert plastic waste from landfill.

RAM Group HR Director Suzanne Hutchinson said Lamb “had demonstrated a great commitment to sustainability, and we admire his efforts and dedication in the research and prototype development of Skrunch-It.”

“We hope our award sponsorship can help fund the next stage of the project, she said.

This year, Lamb will also work with RMIT when Skrunch-It becomes an industry partner as part of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) for an RMIT marketing program.

Senior Lecturer in the College of Business and Law Ashish Kumar said the industry partnership will be a great opportunity for students to collaborate with a past student on his own start-up business.

“Advanced Digital Marketing students will work on a course project where they will solve a business case of Skrunch-it that revolves around developing a specific digital marketing strategy for the company” Kumar said

Though it is still early days, Lamb has big hopes for the business.

“Our mission is quite ambitious, but very achievable,” he said.

“We believe we can have a positive impact not only on individuals trying their best to recycle, but create a more efficient process for collecting, sorting, and recycling. Most of Australia already has the technology and infrastructure set up to pick up recyclables from your home, but loose soft plastics are not accepted.” 

Pieter Lamb poses with his social impact award Lamb poses with his Social Impact Award. Source: RMIT.

“We know that when soft plastics are pre-sorted in a bag, it makes it much easier to be sorted at a facility, yet it still isn’t accepted. We have a strategy to autonomously sort these bags of collected soft plastics with Visual Learning Algorithms for object detection and robotics for automatic sorting and removal of the material at recycling facilities," he said.

Lamb believes this will have a “positive environmental impact” by reducing transportation costs and emissions, the need for manual labour in facilities, contamination in recycling streams, and eliminating the need for households to take soft plastics to drop off points and most importantly, diverting soft plastic from landfill.”

Skrunch-It is also working with RMIT Activator to scale the business and develop new products, including making Skrunch-Its out of the same material it was designed to collect, to help build a more circular economy.

“We also have a new product in testing, which will allow any bag to be used as the collection device, not just a drawstring bag.”

Lamb said the Skrunch-It is currently being tested in some Tasmanian schools and he hopes to continue to grow industry connections so that impacts of his innovative product can be far-reaching.

“With the support of Australians, industry, and local councils, we’d like to make a future where every house has a soft plastic collection device like Skrunch-It, and the ability to recycle the whole bag in their home recycling bins instead of needing to take it to drop off points.”

“With the technology we are trying to build, we’d like to make it possible for people to collect other items that are recyclable but aren’t currently accepted in kerbside collection bins.” he said.

If you would like to purchase a Skrunch-It or find out more, visit the Skrunch-it website. If you would like to learn more about the Entrepreneurship and Marketing courses at RMIT, click here.


Story: Saskia Kostic


  • Environment

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.