Qenos and Cleanaway advanced plastics recycling study a welcome step towards packaging circular economy

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) welcomes the announcement by Cleanaway and Qenos that they will investigate developing new advanced plastics recycling capabilities for Australia.

Plastics manufacturer Qenos and waste management company Cleanaway have announced a feasibility study to assess converting up to 100,000 tonnes per year of household soft plastic waste and mixed plastics to feedstock to make recycled polyethylene plastic for use in new, food-grade plastic packaging.

If approved, the project will save 100,000 tonnes of household soft plastics from landfill each year and create vital new, closed-loop plastics recycling capacity here in Australia.

The AFGC is currently developing the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS), which will be Australia’s first industry-led, national recycling scheme for soft plastic packaging. AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said the Qenos-Cleanaway project is the type of advanced plastic-to-plastic recycling capability needed in a successful nationwide scheme.

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

“Plastic packaging has an important role – it keeps food safe and fresh, reduces food waste and helps keep products intact. The majority of that plastic is a valuable resource that can be recycled and food and grocery manufacturers understand that it is critical that we maximise recycling to reduce the need for virgin plastics and avoid harmful effects on the environment.

“Food and grocery manufacturers, the waste and recycling industry and plastics manufacturers are committing significant resources to meeting the challenge of addressing plastic waste and meeting the National Packaging Targets.”

The National Packaging Targets include a goal of recycling or composting 70 percent of plastic packaging by 2025.

About the NPRS
The National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS) will be Australia’s largest industry-led plastics recycling scheme. The NPRS aims to collect and recycle nearly 190,000 tonnes of soft plastic packaging per annum by 2025.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council is developing the NPRS with funding support from the Government’s National Product Stewardship Investment Fund.

As an industry-led and funded scheme, the NPRS will coordinate the efforts of food and grocery companies to significantly increase the recycling and reuse of plastic packaging, helping to meet Australia’s National Packaging Targets. By laying out a plan for plastics recycling from collection, through recycling and on to new end markets, the NPRS will help build a genuine circular economy for plastic packaging.