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Giant PET recycling plant commissioned in Albury-Wodonga

Around 1 billion PET beverage bottles will be recycled each year now the nation’s largest PET recycling plant is up and running in Albury-Wodonga. 

The facility is a joint-venture collaboration between Pact Group, Cleanaway Waste Management and two beverage companies: Asahi Beverages and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP).

The $45 million recycling plant will boost a domestic circular economy as it operates 24/7 and has the ability to recycle up to 50,000 tonnes of PET bottles sourced in Australia annually. Recycled raw material can be used to produce new beverage bottles and other packaging, aiming to reduce plastic waste in the environment. 

“This bottle-to-bottle plastic recycling facility brings the circular economy on-shore to Australia giving everyone a chance to participate in making a sustainable future possible by recycling their bottles and buying beverages in recycled plastic packaging,” said Paul Binfield, Cleanaway’s CFO.

“Together with our partners, Cleanaway is working on a network of plastics recycling facilities integrated with our leading collection and sorting infrastructure to provide our customers with the most sustainable and circular solution for their plastic recycling.”

Intending to ensure the whole sustainable process, part of the facility uses solar energy and it also reuses a water treatment unit as well as rainwater tanks as much as possible. 

Members of the joint venture contribute to the eco-friendly initiative with their knowledge and expertise. Cleanaway will provide the plastic to be recycled through its collection and sorting network, Pact will operate the facility and provide technical and packaging expertise, while Asahi Beverages, CCEP and Pact will buy the recycled plastic from the facility to use in their packaging.

The Albury-Wodonga project receives the support of about $5 million from the NSW Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative and the Australian Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund. Federal environment minister Sussan Ley says this is a positive practical action as Australia works towards reducing plastic waste. 

“Pact Group made a $500 million commitment at our first national plastic summit in 2020 and they, along with their JV partners Cleanaway, Asahi Beverages and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, have made that a reality today,” Ley added. 

“This demonstrates a commitment to our national packaging targets when the supply chain and government work together.” 

In addition, a second PET plastic recycling facility is being built by the joint venture in Melbourne, with construction expected to start next month, ahead of completion next year. This facility also has the capacity to recycle up to around 1 billion PET beverage bottles annually.

Beverage manufacturers say there has been a shortage of rPET raw material prior to the plants’ planning, at a time when Australian consumers are expecting companies to use less virgin plastic for environmental reasons.

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