Victoria’s biggest PET plastic bottle recycling plant opens for business in Melbourne.

A new $50m facility capable of recycling the equivalent of up to one billion 600ml PET plastic drink bottles each year has been opened by the Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and Victorian Minister for the Environment Steve Dimopoulos. The facility has commenced operations in Melbourne, just in time to take advantage of the state’s Container Deposit Scheme.

The Circular Plastics Australia (PET) plant will convert used drink bottles into high-quality food-grade resin which will then be used to manufacture new recycled PET bottles and food packaging. The plant will be fully operational and recycling PET bottles collected through the Container Deposit Scheme, and additionally, some refuse from the household and office recycling bins in the system.

This is the biggest facility in Victoria and the state-of-the-art equipment is capable of producing 2.5 tonnes of recycled PET resin per hour. Multiple infrared and optical sorters first separate any non-PET material like bottle lids, labels, and metals. The PET bottles are then shredded, ground, and washed before the flaked material is then pushed through a two-stage heating and drying process. The washed flake is finally sent through an extrusions and purification process to produce the recycled PET resin, certified to US FDA standards at this world-class facility.

When fully online and operational, this plant will be able to produce 20,000 tonnes of recycled PET resin each year. There will be 45 jobs for its 24/7 operations, and will be supported by about 60 full-time jobs during its construction. A similar-sized plant was opened in Albury NSW early last year.

Both sites will create a closed-loop solution for plastic beverage bottles where they are manufactured, used, collected, and recycled to be given another life. These new facilities enable Australia to recycle and manufacture our PET plastic drink bottles and packaging locally, without the need to import plastic material for new packaging.

CPA (PET) leverages the expertise of each partner to deliver a closed loop for PET beverage bottles. Cleanaway collects, sorts, and delivers plastic waste to the recycling facilities. Pact operates recycling facilities and uses recycled resin to make new food packaging, while Asahi Beverages and Coca-Cola use recycled resin to make new drink bottles.

Solar panels are incorporated into the design of the facilities to power some of the operations, and water treatment units and rainwater tanks will reuse and recycle as much water on-site as possible.

Circular Plastics Australia (PET) is a joint venture between Pact Group, Cleanaway Waste Management, Asahi Beverages, and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) and was formed to provide a bottle-to-bottle solution to help accelerate the local plastic circular economy. While competitors in the beverage industry, CCEP, and Asahi Beverages have come together for this joint venture to deliver a significant increase in the volume of PET plastics recycled in Australia.

By recycling locally, the two plants are helping to create a “closed loop” solution for plastic drink bottles and imported recycled resins.