Up to 70,000 tonnes of plastics will be diverted from the country’s stricken recycling sector following the opening of a new Advanced Circular Polymers plant in Melbourne’s north.
The centre uses a proprietary method to disintegrate plastic waste into smaller particulates that are then sold on to manufacturers who use the product to create new plastic products.
The Victorian Government has committed $500,000 to the business, part of its $135 million package to strengthen the fragile waste and recycling industry by encouraging new players.
The centre will have the capacity to process over 10 percent of all plastic waste generated in the state.
The plant owner, Harry Wang, realised there was little or no process in place for recycling plastics in Victoria – they had simply been shipped overseas, then made into products that were exported back to Australia.
The design process took about 18 months to develop - Mr Wang imported machines from the US, monitored live by technicians there, that use technology including robotics to sort the different types of plastic, and artificial intelligence to further refine the process.
"The demand is huge and still growing," Mr Wang said. "Most of our products will be sold locally in Australia. More than half of that will be in Victoria.
"There’s a lot of manufacturing that relies on recycled products. We are exploring the market in Europe and the US, because in the developed countries we have the regulations and people care more about using recycled materials, so the demand just keeps growing.
"Also the big brands – from clothing, like Adidas, and the beauty and personal care products, they all [want to use recycled materials]. Coca Cola announced that all their bottles would be 100 per cent recycled. Nike has a stream of products that are 100 per cent recycled plastic. And they charge a premium price for those products.
"With [new] regulations, manufacturers have to take a portion of recycled materials. It will cost them more to use virgin materials. Moving forward, we’ve got great demand now, but in the future, in the next two to five years, the demand is growing."