Pat Conaghan MP

Plastic project with great promise ramps up in Coffs

The Morrison-McCormack Government is investing almost $2.5 million in local company Plastic Collective to develop a cutting edge solution to recycling waste plastics in remote and regional communities.

The recycling idea is the brain-child of Coffs Harbour woman Louise Hardman, who will now be able to turn Plastic Collective’s recycling machine, the Shruder Mk 2 prototype, into larger Shruder Recycling Stations able to recycle 124.8 tonnes of plastic each per year.

“This is an amazing research project which can deliver a win for everyone – the environment, local economy and society,” Mr Conaghan said.

“Plastic collective is one of 24 projects receiving a total of almost $56 million under Round 8 of the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects.

“This program brings industry and researchers together to achieve real-world results and it is part of our plan for a strong economy and better environment.”

Plastic Collective Founder and CEO Ms Hardman said she committed to work on plastic recycling after a sea turtle she cared for in 1992 died due to swallowing plastic.

“I was working as a zoologist at that time and when I performed an autopsy on the turtle, I found its stomach and organs were chock full of plastic,” she said.

“I thought to myself ‘I have to put an end to plastic waste entering the oceans and harming wildlife’.

“After that I worked on the concept for the Shruder prototype. It is amazing to now be partnering with the Australian Government, Southern Cross University, Emalte International working with local engineering firm Camesco Fabrications, and South Pole to develop my concept through this grant.”

Southern Cross University Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research Mary Spongberg said the project was a perfect fit for Southern Cross University (SCU).

“This innovative approach to dealing with waste plastic is exactly the sort of research SCU excels in, bringing expertise created in northern New South Wales to the world, but most importantly to the people who need it most,” Ms Spongberg said.

The Shruder Recycling Stations will be developed by Emalte International CEO Mark Wolf and his team in conjunction with SCU. SCU Professor Steve Smith will conduct impact studies and monitor marine pollution, while SCU Dr Lachlan Yee will carry out polymer product manufacturing research.

Company South Pole will work on integrating a circular economy software solution for the machines so the communities using them will be able to receive ‘shred sales’, an economic benefit from recycling.

The stations comprise of an equipment stack, complete with off-grid power (solar or generator), plus all processing components needed for a mobile workshop. The hard and soft plastics are shredded by the Shruder into small flakes which are then heated and extruded into filament and other moulded plastic products. The plastic flakes can either be on-sold via Plastic Collective to global companies for reuse in products like sunglasses and coat hangers or it can extruded in the station and remoulded into products such as fence posts and roof tiles for use by the community.

The recycling stations will be manufactured in Bonville at first and should demand for the product grow, Plastic Collective would seek to keep manufacturing local and may potentially establish a larger manufacturing facility on the Coffs Coast, creating local jobs.

Countries such as Indonesia, Solomons Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand have expressed interest in buying the recycling stations.

Information on the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects is available at www.business.gov.au/crc-p The Government has allocated Plastic Collective $2,496,887 in this Round 8 grant.

For more information on Plastic Collective contact louise@plasticcollective.co