Despite having established sustainability goals, Australia still needs to meet its target for plastic recycling. According to the Australian Packaging Covenant Organization, just 16% of recovered plastic was recycled in recent years, well below the 70% target.
Figure 1: Recycled plastic bottles
Container Exchange Services (CES) is an ecotech business that delivers critical systems and consultancy services that rapidly mobilize and support the business operations for world-class container recycling schemes in Australia. Led by a mission to help drive the circular economy, where materials are reused and not wasted, CES provides a range of IT infrastructure, payment services, marketing, logistics, customer service, and materials trading (Auction platform) that connect the operational dots between hundreds of companies and millions of consumers that together make up these complex container recycling programs.
Key business challenges
Container Exchange’s services and technology enable the circular lifecycle of a drink container from purchase to the collection through to recycling and remanufacturing. They also offer modern technology for payment systems, brand and customer experience and support, and materials trading. CES took on the challenge to develop its services-based IT platform from scratch to support the recycling scheme’s IT need for an industry-wide solution. The IT platform provides more than 20 applications to support the 800–1,000 companies that make up the end-to-end supply chain of the recycling scheme.
CES needed the platform to be scalable and easy to maintain, and at the onset, it saw a cloud-based solution as the best fit, but it still needed to find the cloud provider with the right combination of services to deliver on its goals. Adopting the latest tech innovation as the cornerstone of the project, CES decided to build all solutions as cloud native, and no on-premises instances existed before.
OCI implementation goals
While the longterm goal of CES is aligned to support Australian governments’ circular economy initiative, for this OCI implementation, they focused on modernizing the cloud native development. They deployed applications in Docker containers in Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE) and a set of open source technology with Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing database.
CES was looking to develop end-to-end service orchestration and integration through one cohesive platform to support all integrations between software-as-a-service (SaaS) and custom applications, as well as external partners and transaction-supporting entities like banks.
They also wanted to simplify cloud data integration to standardize enterprise reporting and support financial reporting for the business by extracting data from Oracle Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and delivering it to the ingestion area for their Enterprise Reporting database.
Why CES chose OCI
After evaluating several major cloud service providers, CES selected OCI and Oracle Cloud Applications. They based the decision on Oracle’s integrated solutions from Oracle Cloud ERP, which CES saw as the market-leading SaaS ERP system on the market, and OCI with Oracle Autonomous Database, which eliminates complex database administration. The end-to-end services from Oracle meant that CES could focus on constantly innovating and delivering more value to its customers. CES also decided to standardize its enterprise reporting solution.
Multiple workloads running on OCI
Moving from a traditional monolith to cloud native development, CES is deploying applications in Docker containers in OCI and open source Technology.
CES initially built its customer management and payment platform using a monolithic Java stack and Autonomous Transaction Processing database with Oracle Fusion Cloud and Supply Chain Management. CES turned to Oracle for an agile development and service-oriented architecture platform to address scalability and agility. Oracle Cloud Lift Services helped modernize the design and split the monolithic application into microservices on OKE. An Oracle engineering team supported CES to build the OKE clusters, managed through OKE. This setup helps CES decouple functionality and maintain available releases, reducing technical debt. As a result, building the refund payment engine application on OCI with cloud native development and OKE, Container Exchange can scale applications, onboard more refund and recycle schemes, and bring the required business agility to provide customer service promptly.
OCI deployed and used an enterprise integration tool and the backbone of all integrations between SaaS and customer applications, and external partners and banks. They selected Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC) for real-time and batch interfaces for integration, providing an Agile-managed platform.
Cloud Data Integration for simplified enterprise reporting
Container Exchange opted to standardize its enterprise reporting solution. To support financial reporting for the business, they needed a way to extract data from Oracle ERP and deliver it to the ingestion area for their enterprise reporting database. After evaluating several options, CES adopted the following approach:
- Existing Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence (OTBI) reports were refactored and exposed through BI Publisher.
- OCI Data Integration was selected as the extract, transform, load (ETL) tool to automate the extraction of these reports and deliver them to a staging database (Autonomous Database) in OCI.
- To deliver the data to the ingestion, CES leveraged the native capabilities of the autonomous database to write to external cloud storage (using the DBMS_CLOUD package).
- The cloud native development and architecture of the tenancy took 6–8 weeks, with Oracle Cloud Lift Services and CES engineering team actively working. Another implementation was done as part of the initial implementation in 2020. Collaboration between the CES engineering team, Oracle Cloud Lift Services, OCI architects, and product management helped deliver the solution in time with acceptable outcomes.
Services, integrations, and connections used
- Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE)
- OCI Registry (OCIR)
- Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing
- Oracle Data Integration
- Oracle GoldenGate
- OCI Web Application Firewall
- OCI APM Synthetic Monitoring
- OCI CloudGuard
- OCI Identity and Access Management (IAM)
- Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC)
- Oracle Datasafe
- Oracle Content Management
- OCI Observability and Management
- ARGO CD
- PRITUNL VPN
“We’ve got a tier-one IT solution to support state-based recycling schemes across Australia and expand to international market that can easily scale with us over time to not only stop containers going into our oceans or filling up landfill sites, but also drive the circular economy,” said Chris Blayney, Chief Executive Officer at CES.
Figure 2: CES reference architecture
With Oracle Cloud ERP and a combination of Oracle Autonomous Database Warehouse and Oracle Analytics Cloud, CES was able to automate finance processes and enhance business insights to increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve controls as it expands.
Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing database provides CES the underlying data storage to store and process information, while using Oracle Integration Cloud and Oracle GoldenGate helps integrating into other CES applications, such as connecting the recycling point-of-sale terminals and database and banking transactions.
Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing also drives the core payment engine and user portal. Of the OCI services, CES uses Oracle Content Management to support creating and publishing content for a strong web presence to raise awareness.
Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes and OCI cloud native development helped CES build and scale efficiently. Running the services platform in the cloud has also benefited CES developers who need to work remotely. CES plans to use the service platform’s flexibility to develop new applications.
OCI helps Container Exchange Service drive the circular economy in the following ways:
- As a result of OCI implementation, the CES IT platform provides more than 20 applications to assist the 1,000+ companies supporting the end-to-end supply chain of the recycling scheme.
- CES launched 320 retail sites that support recycling schemes in a day with 99.99% availability and has helped tens of millions of payment transactions since the launch.
- So far, this platform has supported recycling more than four billion containers across the country and helped refund $400 million AUD. In Queensland alone, Container Exchange has stopped around 120,000 tons of recyclable bottles and cans going into landfills or the ocean each year.
- By deploying the services platform on OCI rather than on-premises, CES is helping its customers save between AUD 2–3 million annually.
- With the support of CES and its services platform on OCI, Australia is improving its recycling record and promoting a circular economy.
- CES has already grown by over 200% in the last two years. By 2023, it aims to support recycling schemes across entire Australia, with plans to expand to New Zealand and other neighboring nations.
“We’ve got a lot of faith in Oracle and OCI, enabling us to expand and meet the needs of other states and countries in protecting the planet through recycling,” said Tim Reid, director of IT at CES. “We aim to encourage and incentivize people to help make a difference, one bottle at a time. And it works.”
CES future with OCI services
CES is planning to deploy disaster recovery for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure stack components, mainly the payment engine running on OKE, OIC, and Autonomous Transaction Processing. The high-level solution being evaluated will run cross-region active or active-passive applications between Sydney and Melbourne OCI regions connected through VPN provider Pritunl.
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