Recycling Victoria

It’s not rubbish – The case for a design-led approach to recycling

The Victorian Government has just announced that one million households across 46 councils will now have four kerbside bins by next year, as part of its plan to reduce waste going to landfill by 80% over the next decade. The new bins will separate regular recycling, food and garden waste, household waste and now glass recycling.

In response to the collapse of local recyclers and overseas channels, in 2019 Infrastructure Victoria commissioned a report on the state’s recycling system. Cobalt submitted a response to the interim version of this report arguing the case for a design-lead user insights exercise to bring together key industry and government stakeholders around end-users’ needs.

Cobalt welcomes the direction of the announced initiative, while noting it is still only a plan.  We believe people are ready to do more in terms of recycling. For example, we noticed this trend in our design research, and more tangibly from our clients, who in turn are responding to end-users preferences toward more sustainable products.

What will be critical to the initiative’s success however is how it is rolled out across homes. Therefore, Cobalt sees the next steps being to gather and integrate user and stakeholder needs. We know local councils, government and industry will have well-articulated needs, so our focus would be on uncovering the diverse needs of the Victorian public.

Capturing the insights of everyday people will enable the delivery of a implementable system that is truly embraced, rather than begrudgingly used.

The main considerations of a human centred design approach should revolve around:

  • How Victorians across different household, profiles, locations and councils and municipalities currently manage their waste and recyclables
  • Uncovering the personal motivations, barriers, deterrents, and drivers behind the public’s recycling habits to understand how best to implement any collection process
  • Uncovering all relevant stakeholder’s unarticulated needs, concerns and potential misconceptions of how waste should be managed at each stage of the recycling process

We look forward to seeing Victoria’s recycling habits improve through this new initiative, so long as the end result can be sustained long-term and the needs of the end-users are championed in the process. Regardless, the initiative is a positive move in the right direction and provides solid groundwork for resource recovery in Victoria.

Read Cobalt’s full published response to Infrastructure Victoria’s initial interim findings here.

Images in this article sourced from and accredited to:

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Advatek - Build It Better

Building it Better with Advatek Lighting and AM Hub

Lighting company Advatek wanted a new generation of their PixLite controller, and partnered with Cobalt to rapidly embody their unique technology in a rugged, configurable and compact body. Cobalt developed the industrial design and production engineering of the range working in close collaboration resulting in an accelerated 4-month timeline to market entry.

The DfAM (Design for Additive Manufacturing) process fast tracked the engineering stages due to product testing and functional reviews being able to be applied to additive manufactured assemblies.  This accelerated program was made possible by Advatek contracting Cobalt as a registered Service provider under the ‘Build It Better’ Voucher program, established by the AMTIL AM Hub.

The ‘Build It Better’ voucher program involves a grant for small to medium manufacturing businesses in Victoria looking to increase their integration of additive manufacturing. The grant provides up to $20,000 in matched funding for these businesses looking to redesign or re-engineer an existing product or create a new one. The funding can be applied toward design expertise, engineering support, business case development, materials selection and/or prototyping support.

In any fast-paced product development, rapid prototyping and iterative sketching are critical validation tools. The exceptionally compressed time frame demands of our project for Advatek were made possible by Cobalt utilising a Design for Additive Manufacture (DfAM) workflow throughout our engineering programme, while facilitating standard injection moulding constraints, such as draft and wall thickness. The Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) process was used for product trials and pilot volume market entry, and seamlessly transitioned to injection moulding for high volume production.

The result significantly upgrades Advatek Lighting’s product design presence and will underpin its global expansion within this specialised, but growing field of large-format LED lighting installation. View our case study here.

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Team Spotlight: CPL

Team Spotlight: Carla Pelligra / Product Design Engineering Intern

Our amazing staff are more comfortable getting excited by new design challenges, than beating their own drum. So in this series, we turn the spotlight on our team to give you an insight into how they each tick. Our latest feature is on Carla Pelligra, our new engineering IBL for 2020.

Carla began studying PDE at Swinburne University in 2017, and is now embarking on a IBL placement at Cobalt as she enters her fourth year of study. But what else is there to Carla?

Favourite part of studying PDE so far?

I love how I get to design and create a product from scratch. The feeling of holding a physical product or idea that came to fruition and you can say ‘I made this is’, is amazing.

Niftiest thing you’ve learnt at Cobalt recently?

I have only been at Cobalt for less than a week but I am currently learning how to efficiently and properly use Solid Works, including the do’s and don’ts which I am really keen to learn.

Other general interests outside of work?

I play senior soccer for Keilor Park, which allows me to have my consistent dose of Nutella and not feel as guilty about it. I also play the violin and piano, so I love to jump on the instruments when I get a chance and create songs. I love watching the footy so I can’t wait for the season to start again, and I’m a sucker for sunsets, so I love taking photos of it! I also love getting out and about in the garden; nature makes me happy 🙂

Coolest home-brew product or project?

I guess the coolest home brew product that I’ve made would be a coffee table made out of steel and wood, which our TV now sits on.

Hidden talent?

I can actually water divine, so using two L-shaped metal rods I can find water… I know this sounds bizarre but I’ve tested it multiple times and it just works for me.  Also I’m pretty good at Mario kart, not going to lie.

What did you want to be growing up?

I really wanted to be a spy for a while (I’m not joking), but then afterwards I loved writing stories; so I think a fictional writer would have suited me well.

If you had one superpower what would it be?

To travel in space with no need for a spacesuit and to do this faster than the speed of light. That way I can explore galaxies, planets, stars and see events that are happening light years away (and I guess see if there is other life out there!).

If you could take one thing to a desert island what would it be?

I would have to bring my dog Charlie!

Best piece of advice for other students?

Keep exploring things that you are passionate or curious about. Ask heaps of questions and don’t be afraid to ask ones that you think may be silly; otherwise you will never get an answer. There have been times in the past where I didn’t ask questions out of fear of looking dumb, but we can’t know everything and we are always learning so don’t be scared.

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