Viva Energy and Cleanaway partner to address hard-to-recycle plastic waste

Cleanaway and Viva Energy have entered into an agreement to undertake a pre-feasibility assessment of a circular solution for soft plastics and other hard-to-recycle plastics currently sent to landfill and transform them back into feedstock for food-grade plastic resin.

The partners want to provide a sustainable soft-plastics solution for food manufacturers and packaging specialists seeking to cater to the growing environmentally conscious market, as well as households and businesses who want a landfill-diversion option.

The facility being assessed would incorporate a dedicated sorting and mechanical pre-treatment plant and an advanced chemical recycling plant to convert waste plastic into plastic pyrolysis oil (PPO), a feedstock for co-processing at Viva Energy’s Geelong Refinery. Recycled plastic manufactured through this process would have identical properties to virgin resin, opening the potential for food manufacturers to use recycled packaging.

According to the companies, the project could provide an important solution for food manufacturers and packaging specialists to meet their obligations under the Australian Government’s new recycling regulatory scheme that is expected to be in place by the end of 2025.

Lachlan Pfeiffer, Viva Energy chief business development and sustainability officer, said the project offers a significant advance in addressing Australia’s plastic waste issue.

“For Australia to have the ability to recycle its own plastic – a true circular economy – we need to have a facility like this to convert waste plastic to pyrolysis oil on a commercial scale,” Pfeiffer said.

“If feasible, over time it will support a market for plastic collection and processing while also providing the pyrolysis oil we need to allow the refinery to produce recycled food-grade plastic. It will be a true end-to-end solution for manufacturers.

“This strategic alliance forms an exciting foundation on which to pursue a circular solution for soft plastics. It brings together Cleanaway’s experience and strategic infrastructure in the waste collection and processing sector, with the processing capability of Viva Energy’s refinery and polypropylene plant.”

Cleanaway executive general manager, strategy, mergers, and acquisitions, Frank Lintvelt said the partnership is an exciting opportunity for Cleanaway to expand its existing operations enabling plastic and packaging circularity in Australia.

“We are looking forward to leveraging our experience piloting new collection methods for soft plastics alongside Viva Energy’s refining capability,” said Lintvelt.

“An end-to-end circular solution for soft plastics is desired by many of our customers, consumers and governments. We are keen to progress this early-stage planning work, so that once we have a federally harmonised policy framework for plastic packaging and mandatory obligations for packaging design, recovery, and recycled content – together, we can provide a circular plastic packaging solution in Australia.”

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