New $45m Albury recycling plant a fillip for circular economy

A new plastic recycling plant will be built near Albury in what is likely to be a major boost to the development of a circular economy in Australia.

Multinational company Asahi Beverages, packaging company Pact Group, and Cleanaway Waste Management confirmed this week they would build the $45 million plant at an industrial estate 10km north of the NSW city.

Subject to approval from the Albury City Council, work on new facility will start towards the end of this year.

Once operational in December 2021, the plant will recycle the equivalent of about a billion PET plastic bottles each year, lifting the amount of locally sourced and recycled PET produced in Australia to more than 50,000 tonnes a year.

Cleanaway will provide the plastic to be recycled via its collection and sorting network, with Asahi and Pact both buying recycled plastic from the new plant to turn into packaging.

Brooke Donnelly, CEO of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), congratulated the joint venture partners on “this important milestone”.

“This new partnership is a real testament to the powerful impact of collaboration,” he said.

“By bringing together key roles within the plastic packaging supply chain, the partnership will ensure more PET plastic is collected, recycled and used again in future packaging – all the while reducing the strain on virgin materials and boosting a local economy with more jobs and greater opportunities.”

Asahi Beverages Group chief executive Robert Iervasi said consumers increasingly wanted to know where the plastic used to make drink bottles was sourced and what would happen to it once the drink had been consumed.

“We’ve certainly seen a big shift over the past few years, where consumers are bringing concepts of sustainability as part of their decision-making as to what products they want to consume,” he said.

“So for us to be able to participate and add to the Australian economy with more recycled PET, and to be able to use that in our manufacturing footprint, really allows us to deliver on a consumer need.”

The project will receive almost $5 million in support from the Environmental Trust under the NSW State Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

In another probable boost for sustainable packaging, Visy Industries last month announced it had bought the Australian and New Zealand divisions of Owens-Illinois Glass, saying it had plans to increase the recycled content of glass bottles made in the factories from one-third to two-thirds.