Geelong company invests in heavy-duty plastic recycling

Sustainability Victoria

Wednesday, 02 August, 2017

Man with polypropylene bale

Thanks to a $170,000 Sustainability Victoria grant and $258,000 from the Australian Packaging Covenant, family-owned company GT Recycling has invested in specialised equipment to recycle heavy-duty woven polypropylene.

GT Recycling has been in the plastic recovery business for more than 20 years, with a focus on recycling wheelie bins, plastic drums, plant pots, bumper bars and packaging film. Now the company is looking to tackle one of Australia’s biggest waste problems — plastic.

Australians use 232,000 tonnes of polypropylene each year for rope, bulk storage bags used in manufacturing and agriculture, tarpaulins and other heavy-duty products. GT Recycling’s $2.5 million polypropylene recycling plant can reprocess up to 1500 tonnes of polypropylene a year and turn it back into a raw material for future use in manufacturing.

“The Chinese market for scrap plastic is tightening, so we’re recalibrating and providing a local recycling option for this type of scrap,” said GT Recycling Managing Director Trevor McLean, who claims that difficult-to-recycle products create new and innovative opportunities.

“It’s a niche market, and several years of R&D work on how to recycle this product utilising the latest technology has allowed for the recycling of a range of packaging items,” he continued.

Sustainability Victoria’s acting CEO, Carl Muller, said Sustainability Victoria is working with industry to reduce waste at the point of production and capture material for recycling at the end of its life. He noted that with the volume of end-of-life plastic and scrap from manufacturing growing, the changing market could trigger many investment opportunities.

“Companies like GT Recycling are taking advantage of a difficult situation, and adding value to their existing business and their region,” Muller said.

This certainly comes across from McLean, who says that GT Recycling now has the capacity to expand, and to add to its 30 members of staff, as a result of these opportunities.

“We’ve had fantastic support from local manufacturers who we have worked closely with to develop new and useable recycled raw material from this type of packaging,” he said.

“We concentrate on specific types of waste plastic and take advantage of new opportunities as they arise in a safe and environmentally sensitive way.

“With Geelong being a major point of export for Victoria’s grain crop and high-capacity rail and road infrastructure, the ability to easily access material is a bonus for us.”

Muller emphasised that resource recovery has become “big business”, claiming that an additional $5 billion in opportunities for infrastructure investment will exist by 2044.

“This equates to approximately $150 million in annual investment opportunities by financing technology, infrastructure and expertise which will improve Victoria’s resource recovery and generate many flow-on benefits across the economy,” he said.

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