Sustainable packaging solutions provider Orora (ASX:ORA) has commenced operation of a new $25 million glass beneficiation plant in South Australia to significantly increase the recycled content in its manufactured glass products.
At an official opening ceremony attended by South Australia deputy premier Susan Close, Orora CEO Brian Lowe described the beneficiation plant as a major milestone in the company’s sustainability journey.
“Our new world-class beneficiation plant is a significant achievement as it will increase the amount of recycled glass used in our manufactured products, allowing us to process up to 150,000 tonnes each year – that’s equivalent to approximately 330 million wine bottles or 750 million beer bottles,” Lowe said.
“Not only does this progress Orora’s sustainability agenda, it enhances our ability to support our customers’ sustainability goals, in turn contributing to the circular economy and the sustainability of the Australian glass industry.”
Construction of the plant, located next to Orora’s glass packaging manufacturing facility at Kingsford near Gawler, was supported by $8 million in grant funding from the Commonwealth and South Australia government as part of the Recycling Modernisation Fund.
“Consumers are increasingly demanding recycled packaging, and this project makes a significant contribution to the circular economy and the sustainability of the glass industry in this state,” Close said.
“We value the investment of the Commonwealth and South Australia government – it aligns to the government’s focus on increasing Australia’s capacity to generate high value recycled commodities, investing in recycling and waste infrastructure, as well as creating new opportunities to recover and reuse resources,” Lowe added.
The process of beneficiation involves removing impurities from used, broken glass through crushing, cleaning and sorting to deliver crushed contaminant-free glass (also known as cullet) ready for manufacture in new products.
The new plant uses optical technology for this process, sorting post-consumer recycled glass by colour and separating the glass from contaminants to provide a clean stream into the company’s furnaces. The use of this type of technology for glass beneficiation is a first for South Australia.
Increasing recycled content through the beneficiation plant will deliver several environmental benefits, including a reduction in the amount of energy consumed to manufacture glass products, a reduction in virgin materials and diversion of waste away from landfill.
These benefits will advance the company toward achieving a number of its sustainability goals, which include 60 per cent recycled content for glass beverage containers by 2025 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The plant has the capacity to produce a maximum of 150,000 tonnes of furnace-ready, recycled glass each year, with 100 per cent of the recycled glass used by Orora to produce glass packaging for customers across the beverage industry, including wine, beer, carbonated soft drinks, kombucha, water and olive oil.
Recycled glass is primarily sourced by Orora from container deposit schemes in South Australia and Western Australia. Orora currently uses 80 per cent of the recycled glass from the South Australia container deposit scheme.
The beneficiation plant will enable the company to source even greater volumes of used beverage glass through container deposit schemes and other established sources in other states across Australia.
The opening of the plant has generated 12 local jobs in the region across technical roles related to operating the plant as well as about 100 jobs via contractors and local suppliers during construction.
As another major step in its sustainability agenda, Orora is planning to construct Australia’s first oxy-fuel furnace for its G3 furnace upgrade at Gawler. The oxygen plant is scheduled for completion in 2024, at a gross cost of approximately $40 million, supported by government funding of $12.5 million.