The Plan For Australia’s First Soft Plastics Recycling Plant

Soft plastics recycling

A group of businesses are looking to shake up the Australian soft plastics recycling industry with plans to launch a feasibility study of a new site that could process soft plastics.

The supermarket and food giants have teamed up with a number of companies involved in the recycling industry. 

They have launched the feasibility study to map out the technical challenges, as well as the economic and environmental incentives of a soft plastics recycling sector. 

This is particularly timely, considering that the Australian government has banned the export of soft and mixed plastics from July 2022, a move made under the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act. 

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According to a report from Inside Retail, Coles and Nestle have tapped technology, recycling and polymer manufacturers Licella, iQ Renew and LondellBasell to take part in the feasibility study. 

They are looking to find out what type of site and equipment they will need to convert soft plastics into an oil, which can then be used to manufacture more plastics in the future. 

Reusing plastics is an emerging industry that is giving rise to a number of technological developments and economic opportunities. 

If constructed, it would be the first recycling plant in Australia capable of processing soft plastics into a reusable oil that can be used to create more food packaging. 

Coles and Nestle are looking to run the study in Victoria, where they could potentially launch an ‘advanced’ recycling centre that could recycle soft plastics that often find their way into landfill.

A report from the SMH says that the group is looking to Geelong or the recycling plant, which they estimate could process more than 17,000 tonnes of soft plastics every year; enough for nearly 2 million households.  

Thinus Keeve, Chief Sustainability, Property and Export Officer at Coles has said that “we are committed to working together with industry to find ways to reduce the impact we have on the environment and we understand the importance of being a part of a more sustainable future for plastics for our customers, our team and the communities we serve.” 

“The potential to completely close the loop on soft plastics and convert it into food-grade soft plastics that could then be used in our Own Brand packaging would be a game changer.” 

Nestle’s Australian CEO, Sandra Martinez has issued a statement saying that the company is keen to be a pioneer of soft plastic recycling here in Australia, that could set an example for the rest of the world.

“While Nestle wants to reduce its use of virgin plastics and increase our use of recycled packaging, this won’t happen without the whole plastics value chain working together,” Martinez said. 

“This feasibility study will provide an important key to developing a better future for soft plastics in Australia.” 

According to a statement from the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, companies that produce packaging for food and beverages are aiming to make their products 100 per cent reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025. 

Licella’s Chief Executive Len Humphreys has said that “Around Australia, we’re looking at potentially 20 of these plants, but our focus initially is on Victoria… Our objective is to work with Coles around the country to close this loop in a way that’s never been done before.”

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