Victorian PET recycling plant now operational

Wednesday, 20 December, 2023

Victorian PET recycling plant now operational

A $50 million facility capable of recycling the equivalent of up to one billion 600 mL PET plastic beverage bottles a year has commenced operations in Melbourne, coinciding with the start of Victoria’s Container Deposit Scheme.

The Circular Plastics Australia (PET) plant will convert used beverage bottles into food-grade resin, which can then be used to make new recycled PET beverage bottles and food packaging such as meat trays and fruit punnets. The plant will recycle bottles collected through the Container Deposit Scheme as well as PET plastic packaging from household and office recycling bins.

The facility contains equipment capable of producing 2.5 tonnes of recycled PET resin per hour. Multiple infrared and optical sorters first separate out any non-PET material, such as bottle lids, labels and metals. The PET bottles are then shredded, ground and washed, before the flaked material goes through a two-stage heating and drying process. The washed flake finally undergoes an extrusion and purification process to produce the recycled PET resin certified to US FDA standards.

The plant, when fully operational, will be able to produce around 20,000 tonnes of recycled PET resin each year.

Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek tours the plant.

This is the second Circular Plastics Australia (PET) recycling facility now operational in Australia, with the first, a similar sized plant in Albury NSW, commencing operations in March 2022.

Circular Plastics Australia (PET) is a joint venture between Pact Group, Cleanaway Waste Management, Asahi Beverages and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), formed to provide a bottle-to-bottle solution to help accelerate the local plastic circular economy. Pact managed the build and operates the two facilities, Cleanaway provides used PET plastic for recycling, and Asahi Beverages and CCEP use recycled resin to make new bottles. Pact also manufactures recycled food and beverage packaging for its customers.

By recycling plastic waste locally, the two Circular Plastics Australia (PET) plants are helping to create a ‘closed loop’ solution for plastic beverage bottles and reduce Australia’s reliance on virgin and imported recycled resin.

Sanjay Dayal, Pact Managing Director and CEO, and Cleanaway CEO Mark Schubert each expressed their pride at being part of this sustainable solution.

Asahi Beverages CEO Amanda Sellers said, “This plant helps ensure soft drink bottles collected via the Victorian CDS and recycling bins get another life as beverage bottles or food packaging. It’s a big step towards creating a truly circular economy in Victoria. Already, all our 450 ml and 600 ml water and soft drink bottles are made with 100% recycled plastic (excluding caps and labels).”

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Australia Managing Director Orlando Rodriguez said, “CCEP is determined to be a leader in Australia’s circular economy. Through this investment, alongside the introduction of Victoria’s CDS, we have made great strides in closing the loop on beverage packaging locally. Seven out of 10 of our PET bottles are now made from 100% recycled plastic (excluding caps and labels).”

The CPA (PET) project in Altona North received $6 million in funding through the Australian Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund and the Victorian Government’s Circular Economy – Recycling Modernisation Fund.

Top image caption: Pact Managing Director and CEO Sanjay Dayal, Member for Oakleigh Steve Dimopoulos MP and Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek at the plant’s opening. Images courtesy of Pact.

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