• Boosting the circular economy: Eric Kjestrup, Pact Group (left) with NZ Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage.
    Boosting the circular economy: Eric Kjestrup, Pact Group (left) with NZ Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage.

Pact Group has obtained government funding for sustainability initiatives in both New Zealand and Queensland, with the aim of boosting its ability to recycle.

New Zealand’s Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF) has kicked in $3m NZD to enable Pact Group to use up to 100 per cent locally-sourced recycled PET in food-grade packaging.

Existing infrastructure produces recycled PET (rPET) flake, which is not approved for food contact and must be sandwiched between layers of virgin material. According to Pact Group executive general manager Eric Kjestrup, however, Pact will now be able to open a plant in Auckland that will process 10,000 tonnes of rPET every year into clean rPET suitable for products such as meat and bakery trays; deli, food, and produce containers; and beverage bottles.

“This funding will contribute to Pact’s investment in state-of-the-art infrastructure that will thoroughly decontaminate the rPET flakes into material that can be used in the production of 100% recycled, food-contact approved packaging.

“Across the food and beverage sector, there is an increasing shift away from materials that have limited or no options for recycling, such as polystyrene, and coloured PET. Investing in this infrastructure with the help of the WMF will provide our customers with a recycled substitute to the current virgin PET range with the same level of functionality,” said Kjestrup.

Kjestrup added that the new capability will enable Pact to substitute all imported virgin resin with rPET, which he said would boost the circular economy.

“We are absolutely delighted to have received this funding and would like to thank the NZ Government. Their support is enabling Pact to continue to invest in sustainability infrastructure and offers a domestic solution to the conversion of recycled resin to food packaging,” he said.

The company has also received $2.5m AUD in funding from the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, which will assist in its expansion of its division Astron’s operations in Wacol.

The new infrastructure will be able to recycle post-industrial LDPE soft film, including pallet, shrink and stretch wrap, plus post-consumer soft film such as plastic bags.

According to Andrew Smith, executive general manager of Pact Group’s sustainability division, the site will be able to turn an extra 7000 tonnes of waste per year into products such as slip-sheets, underground cable covers, and industrial rigid packaging, with the surplus to be sold both in Australia and overseas.

“We are thankful for the support we have received from the Queensland Government. Expanding our local infrastructure will allow the industry to increase the circularity of plastic material.

“Creating end markets for problematic waste streams will also provide a direct economic incentive to avoid leakage of material into natural systems and avoid taking up unnecessary space in Queensland’s landfills,” said Smith.

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