The latest in recycling soft plastics

The recycling of soft plastics from kerbside recycling bins has commenced as a trial with the aim of putting large amounts of soft plastics into an advanced recycling process which results in breaking down the plastics back to an oil, which is then re-used to make new plastics (for re-manufacture).

This trial is part of the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS) project which is being led by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) starting in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges Council area looking to recycle the likes of bread bags, cereal box liners and ice cream wrappers. The soft plastics would initially be processed by APR Plastics in Dandenong, Victoria which will break down clean and shredded soft plastics down into oil from which plastics are made. The “bio-crude’ oil is then refined and made into new plastics.

According to the APR Group Managing Director, Darren Thorpe, it is important that the collection of soft plastics is done in large quantities as these trials are shaping a scalable model allowing a sustainable and efficient advanced recycling industry for soft plastics in Australia. This would service not only a domestic but an enormous world wide demand for recycled food-grade plastics from manufacturers.

Soft plastics are strong, light and have a low carbon footprint and play a vital role in ensuring the freshness and protection of food as well as personal and home care products. In 2019-20 of about 487,000 tonnes only 4% was recycled – the rest went into landfill. Diverting these soft plastics would provide a clean stream of material for Australia’s emerging advanced recycling industry.

Currently there are 17 major food and grocery manufacturing companies that have signed on as Foundation Supporters for the project which are committing funds to the trials and pilots.

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