Beverage packaging waste, like cartons and coffee cups, will soon be a prime building material, allowing Australian builders to replace plywood, particle board, and plaster board with low carbon, environmentally sustainable construction boards.
Packaging waste innovator saveBOARD Australia has received a $1.74 million grant from the Federal and New South Wales Government towards setting up a $5 million facility that will see the company convert beverage packaging waste into high performance building materials.
The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund and the NSW Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.
The project is expected to fuel confidence in a new market for recycled construction materials, akin to roads made from recycled glass, or label liners being converted into insulation material for building. This, in turn, will and enable more packaging to become 100 per cent recyclable/ reusable, in line with the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
Custodian of the National Packaging Targets, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), is in in full support of the project, with CEO Brooke Donnelly commenting, “It is great to see this level of collaboration across the entire supply chain, addressing post-consumer materials by putting in place effective local end-market solutions.” said Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO.
“This is a prime example of the collective impact model in practice which will help establish a manufacturing capacity in Australia. Led by industry with the support of government, APCO will continue to support this type of collaboration as we work to transition to a circular economy for packaging and meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets,” Donnelly said.
The project marks the first collaboration between Tetra Pak and SIG Combibloc in Australia under the umbrella of the Global Recycling Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (GRACE) and is a joint initiative with saveBOARD and its supporters Freightways and Closed Loop.
saveBOARD co-founder and CEO Paul Charteris says making high-performance low-carbon building materials using 100% recycled materials from everyday waste is a game-changer that will transform the construction industry in Australia.
“It will enhance the construction industry’s drive towards more sustainable construction practices.”
The first Australian saveBOARD plant will reprocess liquid paperboard beverage containers, including both aluminium-lined aseptic packages and non aluminium-lined containers collected through the container deposit scheme and coffee cups collected through the 'Simply Cups' recycling program. It will also source material from document recycling company Shred-X.
Together with supplementary material from industrial processes, these items will be used to manufacture high-performance low-carbon building products to substitute plaster board, particle board, and oriented strand board (OSB) that can be used for interior and exterior applications.
The saveBOARD process uses heat and compression to bond materials, eliminating the need for glues or other chemical additives, to produce a clean product with zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), suitable for use in homes and commercial buildings.
Tetra Pak Oceania MD Andrew Pooch told PKN that commercially viable on-shore recycling is critical in Australia, and this has made achieving the National Packaging Targets a challenge, even for beverage cartons.
“Without a strong market for recycled materials, there is little economic incentive to collect, sort and recycle used packaging and turn it into something valuable,” Pooch said.
“This partnership will create a stable domestic end market for used beverage cartons. The success of this recycling solution will depend on the support from state government and local councils to ensure that beverage cartons are kept in kerbside recycling, so we have sufficient volumes of feedstock, ensuring the viability of this local solution.
“With this solution, the whole carton including straws and caps will be shredded and turned into chipboard-like products to be used as building materials,” he said.
SIG Combibloc Australia & New Zealand GM Adam Lipscomb says SIG is delighted to support this first full recycling solution for beverage cartons on Australian soil. “Cartons are the premier sustainable choice for food and beverage packaging in Australia, and today’s announcement further strengthens our leadership position. This project is a key milestone towards achieving full circularity for beverage cartons in Australia, and we look forward to seeing it come to fruition.”
Freightways, CEO Mark Troughear says its investment in saveBOARD allows the logistics company to grow its waste renewal division through a commitment to circular waste solutions with minimal carbon kilometres, all while providing a new strategic growth category. “saveBOARD completes an end-product solution for Freightways, where waste can be regenerated and reused into world class products while utilising our core capabilities in pick-up, process and delivery channels,” said Troughear.
Closed Loop MD Rob Pascoe says saveBOARD products will be the lowest carbon footprint interior and exterior board products on the market. “saveBOARD promises a better, greener, more affordable solution that can lead us towards a more sustainable future. It’s the perfect example of the circular economy in action,” said Pascoe.