Recycling plant to give beverage cartons new life as building materials

Long-life cartons will soon be recycled into environmentally sustainable building materials as the first Australian plant to process the beverage containers has been announced, filling a gap in local recycling infrastructure.

saveBOARD Australia has received a $1.74 million grant from the Federal and New South Wales
Governments towards setting up a $5 million facility that will turn packaging waste from used liquid paperboard beverage cartons and coffee cups into high performance building material.

The project is the first collaboration between beverage carton suppliers Tetra Pak and SIG Combibloc in Australia under the Global Recycling Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (GRACE) and is a joint initiative with saveBOARD, Freightways and Closed Loop. This parallels a similar partnership in New Zealand, where saveBOARD commissioned its first plant this year.

The Australian plant will initially focus on materials collected through government and industry funded Container Deposit Schemes, as there is sufficient supply through these programs to support the first plant.
It’s expected the facility will create confidence in a new market for recycled construction materials, enabling more packaging to become 100% recyclable, in line with national packaging targets.

Currently, not all councils accept long-life cartons for kerbside recycling, which can be confusing for consumers and problematic for industry in communicating recyclability messages. However, there is hope that investment in improving local sorting facilities and the capacity to build further plants will mean kerbside collections could feed into these recycling processes in future.