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A new PET plastic recycling facility, set to be the largest of its kind in Victoria, will be built in Altona North by a cross-industry partnership between Pact Group, Cleanaway, Asahi Beverages and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP).

Set to drive a significant increase in the state’s PET recycling capacity, the plant will be built in an industrial precinct on Horsburgh Drive, with construction planned to start in early 2022 and finish in 2023.

It is expected to create more than 100 local jobs during the construction phase and 45 permanent roles once it’s complete. The capital expenditure for the project will be around $50 million. 

“We know from our research that Australian consumers are increasingly demanding packaging that is recycled and recyclable, and this new PET recycling facility in Victoria ticks both of those boxes,” said Sanjay Dayal, Pact Group CEO and managing director. 

“Pact Group is delighted to have been able to drive a cross-industry solution for sustainable beverage bottles, and we will continue to work with industry partners and government to create a strong local circular economy. 

“This facility is part of our ongoing investment in new state-of-the-art facilities to recycle plastic waste and manufacture sustainable packaging all across Australia.” 

The new facility will be the second PET recycling plant to be built by the four-party joint venture, following the construction of a similar plant in Albury-Wodonga, which will be fully operational next month. 

Each facility will be capable of processing the equivalent of around one billion plastic bottles – collected via Container Deposit Schemes and kerbside recycling each year. 

All material collected will be converted into more than 20,000 tonnes of high-quality recycled PET bottles and food packaging by each facility, which will use state-of-the-art sorting, washing, decontamination and extrusion technology. 

“We are constructing this facility to help create a truly circular economy in Victoria and beyond,” said Robert Iervasi, Asahi Beverages Group CEO.

“Our consumers can now have increased confidence that when they dispose of their plastic water or soft drink bottle, it will be recycled instead of going to landfill. It’s not every day that drinks companies announce they’re building a new recycling plant, but we want to help create meaningful change.” 

While competitors in the beverage market, CCEP and Asahi Beverages have come to the table with Pact and Cleanaway to deliver a substantial increase in the amount of PET plastic recycled and reused in Australia.

“We are proud of CCEP’s continued investment in Australia’s circular economy. Our vision is for our bottles to be part of a closed loop where they are used, collected and given another life,” said Peter West, CCEP vice-president and general manager – Australia, Pacific and Indonesia.

“This plant will work to complete this loop, lessen the national rPET shortage, and create new jobs for Victorian workers. It is truly an exciting milestone in our sustainability ambitions.”

The cross-industry joint venture draws on the expertise of each member. Cleanaway will provide PET through its collection and sorting network, Pact will provide technical and packaging expertise, and Asahi Beverages, CCEP and Pact will buy the rPET from the facilty to use in their products.

”This recycling facility is a huge step towards Victoria creating its own domestic circular economy,” said Mark Schubert, Cleanaway CEO and managing director.

“Cleanaway is excited to be part of providing customers access to high circularity infrastructure as we work towards making a sustainable future possible together.”

Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley and Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate change Lily D’Ambrosio, announced $6 million towards the project from a total pool of $36.5 million in joint funding projects under the Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) and the Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund.

“The Morrison government’s $190 million contribution to the RMF was facilitating unprecedented investment in recycling infrastructure, with the combined Commonwealth, state, territory and industry co-investment model on track to reach around $800 million,” Ley said. 

“The co-investment model is exceeding all expectation and showing that materials can be recycled and remanufactured to create new products and new jobs, while helping our environment.”

D’Ambroio said the joint venture will receive $6 million towards its new PET recycling facility, which will boost local jobs and increase the state’s recycling capacity. 

“Funding and facilitating projects like this will help Victoria reach our goal of diverting 80 per cent of waste sent to landfill by 2030, improving our circular economy and tackling climate change,” she continued.

"Game-changing" investment

In addition to announcement of the new facility, Pact Group also recently received $20 million in funding from the federal government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative for Recycling and Clean Energy Manufacturing projects to support its investments in world-leading technology, which will increase the amount of recycled materials in locally made plastic packaging. 

The funding will support investment of approximately $76 million in new equipment and facility upgrades at 15 of Pact’s operations in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and WA, which are to be completed by mid-2024.

The investments will be made across four areas of Pact’s manufacturing operations:

  • Upgrades to national dairy packaging equipment at facilities in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, and WA to enable up to 50 per cent recycled content for HDPE milk bottles;
  • Installation of world-leading technology at facilities in NSW and Victoria to boost production capability for PET drink bottles with 100 per cent recycled content;
  • Upgrades to Sulo mobile garbage bin manufacturing facilities in NSW and Victoria to increase production capacity to support the rollout of “four bin” waste management initiatives and increase the use of recycled content to 80 per cent from the current average of 30 per cent; and
  • New equipment at Pact’s industrial packaging manufacturing plants in NSW, Victoria and Queensland to upgrade production facilities to enable increased recycled content in the manufacture of plastic paint pails and plastic cubes used in agricultural chemical and industrial applications.

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