Circular Plastics Australia (PET) is a joint venture partnership between Pact Group, Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd, Asahi Beverages, and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) aiming to create a circular economy for PET beverage and food packaging. The newly installed recoSTAR PET 215 HC iV+ at the Albury-Wodonga facility turns post-consumer PET flakes into food-contact rPET pellets, starting with a two-stage heating and drying process of the hot-washed flakes for optimum preparation for the extrusion process. After extrusion, thorough filtering and underwater pelletising, the produced rPET pellets undergo vacuum treatment in the downstream SSP reactors for IV increase and highly effective decontamination that readies the pellets for food-contact applications.
Joining forces to close the loop
Circular Plastics Australia (CPA) plans to recycle 30,000 tonnes of post-consumer PET collected via container deposit schemes and kerbside recycling each year and use the food-grade rPET pellets as raw material to produce new beverage bottles and other food and beverage packaging. Each member of the joint venture provides its knowledge and expertise in the project: Cleanaway supplies the plastic to be recycled through its collection and sorting network, Pact operates the facility and provides technical and packaging expertise, while Asahi Beverages, CCEP and Pact buy the recycled plastic from the facility to use in their packaging. The output of the Albury-Wodonga plant will help to increase the amount of locally sourced and recycled PET by two thirds from around 30,000 tonnes to over 50,000 tonnes p.a. and reduce Australia’s reliance on virgin plastic and recycled plastic imports.
The CPA Albury-Wodonga facility was supported by an AUD 5 million grant through the New South Wales Government’s “Waste Less, Recycle More” initiative, with the support of the Australian Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund.
“This joint venture is a major achievement and sets precedence”, said Paul Niedl, Commercial Head of Starlinger recycling technology. “We feel proud that we can support Circular Plastics Australia with our know-how and technology in their commitment to sustainability and help to establish a closed-loop system for plastic packaging in Australia.”
Pact’s Managing Director and CEO, Sanjay Dayal, said: “The opening of this state-of-the-art facility in Albury-Wodonga is a game changer for Australia’s plastic recycling industry. Working together with our partners, this facility creates a true circular economy by recycling and manufacturing PET beverage bottles and food packaging here in Australia without the need to import plastic material from overseas.”
CPA is building a second PET recycling facility in Altona North in Melbourne, Victoria, which will be equipped with a Starlinger recoSTAR PET 330 HC iV+ recycling line featuring the largest SSP reactor currently installed worldwide. It will have the capacity to recycle the equivalent of around one billion PET beverage bottles each year. Construction has been scheduled to begin in April 2022 and be completed in 2023.