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As part of a continuous upgrade programme, Cleanaway's Laverton Material Recovery Facility (MRF) centre in Melbourne will see $1 million invested in new equipment to increase recycling of plastic.

The investment, supported by up to $500,000 of funding from Sustainability Victoria, includes the purchase of new conveyors and optical sorting equipment and the optimisation of existing equipment at the plastic recycling facility at Laverton. 

According to Cleanaway's chief operating officer Brendan Gill, the new equipment will enable the separation of plastics such as coloured PET bottles and plastic trays commonly used for meat and fruit, from mixed residual plastic, reducing the volumes of plastic being sent to landfill and increasing the recovery of valuable commodities.

Sensors on the sorting equipment will detect and remove the coloured PET from the mixed plastics as they move along a conveyer at the Laverton MRF.

“At Cleanaway we see all waste as a resource, so this investment supports our objective of creating a circular economy in which waste is reduced and materials are reused and recycled, rather than sent to landfill,” Gill said.

“Recovering, finding markets for, and selling, single polymers like coloured PET plastic not only creates value but is consistent with our mission of making a sustainable future possible.”

Previously, coloured PET was sold overseas with other plastics, like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP), before bans on exports of mixed plastics were introduced on 1 July.

As the first Australian operator of a MRF to secure a licence to export single polymer plastics, Cleanaway will sell the green PET to processors offshore and in Australia.

Clear PET from Laverton will be sent to the $45 million PET pelletising facility currently being built at Albury, NSW, to produce plastic resin for use in manufacturing new plastic containers.

The facility, owned by a joint venture of Cleanaway, Pact Group and Asahi Beverages, called Circular Plastics Australia (PET), will be fully operational later this year.

Cleanaway and Pact also announced in July that Laverton would be the site of a $38 million plant to convert recycled HDPE and PP, such as milk bottles and food tubs, into resin for use in manufacturing food, dairy and other packaging.

This facility, which complements the Albury PET pelletising plant, will be fully operational in December 2022.

In more recent news, Cleanaway, Pact, Asahi and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture, which will build and operate a new PET recycling facility and include the Circular Plastics Australia (PET) joint venture in Albury.

A decision on the location of the new PET facility will be made in coming months, with construction to be completed by 2023.

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