Circular Plastics Australia, a joint venture of Pact Group, Cleanaway Waste Management, Asahi Beverages, and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), has begun operations at its new recycling plant in Melbourne, Australia.

The $50m facility features advanced equipment and can produce 2.5 tonnes (t) of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) resin per hour.

Claimed to be the largest of its kind in the state of Victoria, the plant uses multiple infrared and optical sorters to separate non-PET materials such as bottle lids, labels, and metals.

The PET bottles are shredded, ground, and washed, after which the flaked material undergoes a two-stage heating and drying process.

The resulting high-quality resin will be used to manufacture rPET beverage bottles and food packaging such as meat trays and fruit punnets.

At full scale, the plant will employ approximately 45 people for its 24/7 operations and will produce roughly 20,000t of rPET resin each year.

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The project supported around 60 full-time jobs during its construction.

The plant will be crucial for Victoria’s container deposit scheme (CDS), which launched in November this year.

The Melbourne plant is Circular Plastics Australia’s second recycling facility operating in the country after the first one in Albury became operational in March last year.

Both these facilities are operated by Pact Group.

Cleanaway will supply used PET plastic while Asahi Beverages and CCEP will use the recycled resin to make new 100% rPET beverage bottles.

Pact will also use the resin to manufacture recycled food and beverage packaging for its own customers.

Pact managing director and CEO Sanjay Dayal said: “Pact is proud to be part of a sustainable solution where we are making, recycling and remaking plastic beverage bottles in Australia.

“Together, the two Circular Plastics Australia (PET) recycling facilities are able to process up to two billion plastic bottles a year which helps keep thousands of tonnes of plastic waste out of landfill.”