Close the Loop soft-plastic recycling facility opens

Australia’s soft plastic waste issue concerns packaging industry players, consumers and industries alike. The latest opening of Close the Loop’s Reservoir facility is a welcome development and a significant milestone in soft plastic recycling.

The Soft Plastics Taskforce and all those invested in resolving our soft plastics waste issue gave the opening the tick of approval.

Close the Loop, a part of the ASX-listed Close the Loop Group (CLG), has established itself as a frontrunner in “circular economy” innovation.

At the opening of the new facility, CLG CEO Joe Foster addressed the audience and highlighted the significance of the new line. She advised the company would utilize soft plastic waste to manufacture patented TonerPlas and rFlex materials.

The recycled materials prevent post-consumer soft plastic from ending up in landfills and allow for its re-purpose into high-performance applications. Foster emphasized the facility’s commitment to zero waste to landfill.

Soft-plastic recycling

As the facility becomes operational in February and scales up production throughout 2024, it will operate at a capacity exceeding one tonne per hour. This volume is a notable increase, four to five times greater than the previous line, lost to fire in 2022.

TonerPlas has demonstrated its ability to enhance the performance and longevity of asphalt roads while reducing the carbon footprint. Various council road projects across Australia use the product, including for significant freeway upgrades such as the M80 and Monash Freeways in Melbourne.

Soft-plastic heading to Close the Loop

TonerPlas, an award-winning engineered asphalt additive, uses recycled toner powder (plastic) from printer cartridges and post-consumer soft plastics. The proprietary process involves melting and extruding these materials on the line, utilizing Australian-developed technology.

Notably, Close the Loop’s primary business involves managing the recycling for the Cartridges for Planet Ark program. Speakers at the event included Planet Ark CEO Rebecca Gilling, APCO CEO Chris Foley, and Sustainability Victoria’s head, Matt Genever.

Plans for expansion

Steve Morriss, the head of Circularity at Close the Loop, the company’s founder, and the event’s MC emphasized the pivotal role of collaboration in the company’s success. He said Close the Loop had worked hard for over two decades with key partners to develop processes, products, and markets for complex waste streams.

At the launch, Morriss revealed exciting plans to expand the business model to other states, allowing local communities to transform local waste soft plastics into product products. He also underscored the importance of establishing “circular contracts,” where the company sending waste commits to purchasing back the recycled material for use in remanufactured products. These include new packaging, injection-molded supermarket trolleys, or roads.

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