Circular Plastics Australia (CPA) opened a new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle recycling plant in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in December 2023. It is the largest PET plastic bottle recycling plant of its kind in Victoria.
CPA is a joint venture between Pact, Cleanaway Waste Management, Asahi Beverages and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners.
Pact, a packaging solutions provider, managed the construction of the facility and serves as the operator, while Cleanaway, a waste management company, supplies the used PET plastic for recycling.
Beverage companies Asahi Beverages and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners utilise the recycled resin produced at the facility to manufacture new 100% recycled PET beverage bottles.
The new facility was developed with an investment of A$50m ($33.9m). It can recycle one billion 600ml PET plastic bottles to generate 20,000t of recycled PET resin a year.
The opening of the facility coincided with the launch of Victoria’s container deposit scheme, which is aimed at improving the recycling capacities in the region. The new plant contributes to the recycling of PET bottles collected through the scheme.
The project employed 60 people during construction and generated 45 jobs.
Circular Plastics Australia’s PET bottle recycling facility has been developed within the PortLink Industrial Estate, a 25.9 hectare logistics and warehousing estate located in Horsburgh Drive, Altona North.
The estate lies 14km west of Melbourne’s central business district and 9km west of the Port of Melbourne.
Circular Plastics Australia’s PET bottle recycling facility details
The 7,140m² PET plastic bottle recycling plant is equipped with advanced technology, including infrared and optical sorters, to ensure the purity of the recycled resin. It includes 6,520m² of warehouse area, 600m² of office space and amenities and 9,770m² of concrete hardstand. Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority, the facility is designed to achieve A under the Green Building Council of Australia’s sustainability rating system.
The facility also features a wastewater treatment plant comprising screening, pH correction and dewatering systems for efficient wastewater treatment.
The recycling process at the facility begins with Cleanaway collecting, sorting, separating and baling the recyclables, then placing them on the sort line. Multiple infrared and optical sorters remove non-PET substances such as caps, lids, labels and metals.
The PET bottles are then shredded and washed in a wash line followed by a two-stage heating and drying process. The washed flakes are fed into an extrusion and purification line to produce food-grade rPET resin.
PET resin details
The high-quality recycled PET resin produced at the facility can be used to produce new recycled PET beverage bottles and a range of food packaging solutions, including meat trays and fruit punnets.
The produced resin serves as a substitute for both locally sourced and imported virgin resin used in the production of fresh packaging, thereby fostering a more sustainable packaging sector within Australia.
The recycling project received A$6m ($4.07m) in funding from the Australian and Victorian Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund.
The PET bottle recycling facility was constructed by Vaughan Constructions, a construction firm, on behalf of Aliro, ISPT, TMX Global and Direct Property Connect.
ISPT, a property fund manager, owns PortLink Industrial Estate and serves as the investor for the facility, while Aliro, a property development company, is the development manager.
Direct Property Connect, a client representative consultancy, was the project manager and managed the design and construction delivery phases in partnership with TMX Global, a supply chain consultancy that served as the tenant representative.
Aerofloat, a wastewater treatment solutions provider, designed and equipped the wastewater treatment plant featuring AeroDAF technology at the facility.
Marketing commentary on Circular Plastics Australia
CPA is focused on developing a sophisticated recycling system in Australia, aimed at providing Australasian manufacturers with traceable, certified recycled resin that is both food-grade and non-food-grade.
The company’s first PET recycling facility is located in Albury, New South Wales. The second facility located in Laverton, Victoria, is capable of processing up to 20,000t of high-density polyethylene and polypropylene (PP).