The first sod was turned for the Circular Plastics Australia PET recycling facility in February 2021. Credit: Cleanaway.
The estimated investment in the Circular Plastics Australia PET recycling plant is A$45m. Credit: Cleanaway.
Cleanaway has received state and federal recycling grants for the Circular Plastics Australia PET recycling facility in January 2021. Credit: Cleanaway.

Circular Plastics Australia (CPA) developed a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling facility in Albury-Wodonga, Australia.

CPA is a joint venture between Cleanaway Waste Management, Pact, Asahi Beverages, and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP).

The sod-turning ceremony for the plastic bottle recycling facility was held in February 2021, marking the official start of construction. Estimated to cost A$45m ($32m), the PET plant opened in March 2022.

The plant produces more than 30,000 tonnes (t) of new recycled PET and food packaging a year, with the potential to extend up to 50,000t. It employs 40 people, comprising locals, for round-the-clock operations.

Pact oversaw the construction and now operates the recycling facility. Cleanaway offers used PET plastic for recycling at the facility while Asahi Beverages and CCEP purchase recycled plastic produced at the facility for use in its packaging.

Circular Plastics Australia PET recycling plant details

The Circular Plastics Australia’s PET recycling plant is located at the Nexus Precinct, 10km north of Albury-Wodonga’s central business district in New South Wales.

The facility recycles up to one billion 600ml PET plastic bottles a year, which are utilised as raw material for manufacturing new bottles. It also produces recycled plastic using Pact’s packaging and technical expertise for food and beverage packaging.

The plant increases the capacity of locally sourced and recycled PET produced in the country from 30,000t to 50,000t.

The plastic feedstock and containers to be recycled by the plant are collected through Cleanaway’s material recovery facilities, sorting and collection network, and the NSW Return and Earn Scheme.

The facility is equipped with the Aeroflout wastewater treatment system, which effectively removes microplastics from wastewater during the recycling and treatment of biological waste.

Sustainable features

The facility is powered by a 632kWh rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system comprising 1,421 solar panel systems.

The PET recycling plant supports the successful delivery of Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets, which aim to ensure that 100% of the country’s packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable, 70% of plastic packaging is recyclable or compostable, and an average of 30% average recycled content is included across all packaging by 2025.

The facility is dedicated to contributing to a cleaner environment, regional development, and a domestic circular economy. It diverts plastic waste from landfills and recycles drink bottles and food packaging in Australia, thereby avoiding the need to import plastic internationally.

The plant also enables Cleanaway’s customers to collect, process, treat, recycle, or safely dispose of waste, bringing in a circular economy and making a sustainable future possible.

Financing for the Circular Plastics Australia PET recycling facility

The project received financial assistance of A$4.8m towards the establishment of the facility and A$495,000 towards the procurement of specialised equipment for the plant from the NSW Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded by the waste levy.

The facility is also supported by the Department of Regional NSW and the Australian Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund.

Contractors involved

Aerofloat, a wastewater treatment solutions provider, was contracted to build the wastewater treatment system at the PET recycling facility in June 2021.

Mondo, a provider of energy services, installed the rooftop solar PV system and its Ubi energy management and monitoring system.

Marketing commentary on Circular Plastics Australia

CPA was established to harness the unique abilities and complementary specialisations of each partner to drive the local circular economy forward.

It aims to address the insufficient local processing facilities to handle waste from kerbside collections and container deposit schemes.

The company has developed three state-of-the-art facilities capable of recycling more than 60,000t of post-consumer plastic packaging a year into premium resins, including those suitable for food.

The facilities comply with Food and Drug Administration/European Food Safety Authority standards and hold Food Safety System Certification.

CPA’s second PET plastic recycling facility in Melbourne was opened in 2023.