Advanced Plastic Recycling

September 11, 2019

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:28): I rise today to speak about Advanced Plastic Recycling. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Advanced Plastic Recycling's factory in Kilburn. APR is a world leading manufacturer and designer of recycled wood plastic composite products. APR is a family-owned business that has been operating for 16 years. They employ 30 full-time staff, and their Kilburn factory operates six days a week.

 

APR's factory is unique and is currently able to manufacture the biggest products of their kind in the world. APR sources 100 per cent postconsumer waste, particularly plastic waste and waste from the timber industry, and turns it into bespoke wood-plastic composite products. APR receives timber industry waste such as sawdust, which would ordinarily go to landfill; similarly, plastic waste that would otherwise be destined for landfill is obtained in granulated form after it has been collected and recovered from kerbside recycling.

 

These materials are then combined and processed to produce an innumerate number of products such as park benches, bollards, bridges, fencing and boardwalks, to name only a few. The products are made from a sustainable alternative to virgin plastic and are environmentally friendly, low maintenance and long-lasting. They are just as, if not more, durable than plastic alternatives and are cost competitive.

 

As all APR's products are made out of postconsumer waste, APR diverts 1.5 million kilograms of plastic and 1.5 million kilograms of waste wood from entering landfill each year. To put this into perspective, 198 two-litre milk bottles are used to make one standard bollard. This is an equivalent to the average milk consumption of two Australians per annum. Additionally, as all APR's products are bespoke and made to order, there is virtually no wastage.

Not only are the products that APR manufacture environmentally friendly, their manufacturing process is as well. Only a small amount of energy is used to heat the plastic and once melted, it is cooled down to solidify the shape using a closed-loop, cool-water system. This reduces water lost and wasted through evaporation. While the environmental benefits overall may be obvious, there are also financial and broad economic benefits due to lower dumping costs and employment opportunities.

 

While some local government organisations are already aware of APR's products and are purchasing them in favour of plastic or timber products, many of the issues we face with our waste would be resolved if more recycled material was purchased throughout all levels of government. Whilst I acknowledge that South Australia leads the nation with the best recycling rates, overall we can do better. The average Australian generates a shocking 103 kilograms of plastic waste each year. As reported in the National Waste Report 2018, only 12 per cent of all Australian recyclable waste is actually recycled. This is an appalling figure that must be addressed with serious cooperation by all states and territories in Australia.

 

The government has recently launched its 'Which Bin?' campaign to encourage better recycling; however, it is not enough to just recycle. It is important to reduce the amount of waste generated initially and also to encourage the consumption of recycled products over new. For example, if APR were to manufacture a 16-kilometre sound wall, 40 per cent of plastic waste generated by South Australians in a year would be diverted from landfill.

 

All levels of government have an important role to play in closing the loop of the circular economy, as they are often the biggest procurers. With the cooperation of those responsible for large-scale procurement there is potential to resolve issues which have emerged due to China's new waste import policy, also known as China Sword. I encourage the government and councils to investigate these options, and extend APR's invitation to all decision-makers to visit them at Kilburn.

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