Victoria makes $3 million joint investment in soft plastics recycling

In a big boost for sustainability, the Federal and Victorian governments have made a $3 million joint investment to fund a new soft plastics recycling plant in Altona in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

The partnership said the IQ Renew plant will be able to recycle 30,000 tonnes of soft plastic into food-grade packaging materials through the Recycling Modernisation Fund.

Australians use an estimated 70 billion pieces of soft ‘scrunchable’ plastics, including food wrappers, every year – with only four per cent recycled and the rest ending up as litter in landfills.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFCG) has praised the announcement, with CEO Tanya Barden stating the funding addressed a key requirement for closing the loop on soft plastics.

“This is another important step in creating a circular economy for plastics and supporting the growth of a new advanced recycling industry here in Australia,” Barden said.

The AFGC is leading the development of the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS), which aims to make recycling packaging more effective via an expanded curbside collection. It has already encouraged investment in advanced recycling technologies, such as infrastructure that can recycle soft plastics onshore into new packaging.

“Plastic packaging has an important role in keeping food safe and fresh, reducing food waste and keeping products intact,” Barden said. “The NPRS project will increase the recycling rates of soft plastic packaging and reduce the amount of virgin plastic used in packaging, helping to meet Australia’s National Packaging Targets.”

The council said it would conduct trials of the curbside collection with several local boards and welcomes the Victorian government’s move to include soft plastics in yellow-lidded bins in the coming years.

“This is an example of the collaboration, innovation and investment needed to create an effective and sustainable circular economy for plastic packaging in Australia,” Barden concluded.

This story first appeared on our sister publication Inside FMCG