A recycling plant being built in NSW is being hailed as a significant step towards Australia's development of a circular economy for domestic plastics.
The plant being constructed just outside Albury will take used plastic bottles and containers, pelletise them, then turn them into new bottles.
The $45 million facility will be the biggest plastic recycler in the country, specialising in PET plastic - a kind of polyester used to make bottles and food packaging.
It is part of a broader strategy for Australia to create its own 'bottle to bottle' or 'circular' recycling system so there is no need to rely on exporting used plastics or importing recycled plastic.
"We can't send plastic overseas so we need to create infrastructure in Australia to recycle," Cleanaway chief executive Vik Bansal said.
The facility, due to open in October, will be run as a joint venture called Circular Plastics Australia owned by waste management company Cleanaway, beverage giant Asahi and plastics manufacturer Pact Group.
The plant will recycle the equivalent of one billion 600-millilitre plastic bottles each year and produce more than 20,000 tonnes of new recycled bottles and food packaging.
It will increase the amount of locally sourced and recycled PET plastic produced in Australia by two-thirds, from around 30,000 tonnes now to more than 50,000 tonnes, according to Pact Group.
"This project would not have been possible without increased demand for locally-processed recycled content," Pact Group chief executive Sanjay Dayal said.
"We know Australians' attitudes to recycling are shifting."
Used plastic brought to the plant will come from NSW residents' yellow recycling bins via material recovery facilities operated by Cleanaway, as well as the "return and earn" container deposit scheme which has receptacles across the state.
The plant will reduce the nation's reliance on virgin plastic and imported recycled plastic, and contribute to the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
Established in 2018 with the support of industry and government, the targets aim for 100 per cent of packaging to be either reusable, recyclable or compostable within the next four years.
The targets state that 70 per cent of plastic packaging is to be recyclable or compostable.
Australian Associated Press