Compacting plastic infrastructure: Wastech Engineering

Compacting plastic infrastructure: Wastech Engineering

With rapidly growing collection rates and rising public awareness, REDcycle relies on convenient compaction from Wastech Engineering.

When Downer opened its new soft plastics asphalt plant in June, Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser highlighted the facility’s ability to process thousands of tonnes of sustainable road material each year.

For every kilometre of two-lane Reconophalt road, the facilities flagship product, 530,000 equivalent plastic bags are diverted from landfill and repurposed into roadbase.

Australia’s infrastructure boom, paired with a renewed government focus on sustainable procurement, suggests Downer will require a consistent flow of soft plastic to meet demand.

Industry led product stewardship scheme REDcycle, which supplies the soft plastics used to produce Reconophalt, has collection bins in every Coles and Woolworths supermarket in the country.

According to the Coles 2019 Sustainability Report, since beginning in 2011, REDcycle has diverted more than 715 million pieces of flexible plastic from landfill. In the 2019 financial year, the volume of soft plastics collected by the program grew by 32 per cent.

Elizabeth Kasell, RED Group Director, says the program aims to provide Australian consumers with an alternative disposal option for plastic packaging that can’t be recovered through kerbside recycling.

To ensure material quality, Elizabeth says REDcycle operate a range of Bramidan Balers, supplied by Wastech Engineering.

“Another recycler recommended the Bramidan Baler range to us over 10 years ago, and REDcycle has been using them exclusively ever since,” she says.

According to Elizabeth, baling the material REDcycle collects is the most efficient transport option for the program, given soft plastic’s irregularity and tendency to hold air.

“At most of the stores, around 80 percent, the material is collected directly by us. We do have some regional stores that are well covered through a reverse logistics process,” Elizabeth says.

“After the plastic arrives at the depot, we conduct initial decontamination and sorting before baling the material and sending it to end market clients such as Downer and recycled plastic manufacturers Replas and Plastic Forests.”

Elizabeth says the compaction rate of Wastech’s Bramidan Baler range is well suited to film plastics.

“Due to the nature of our material, REDcycle compact’s a lot of plastic bags that are full of air, and the compaction rate of Bramidan Balers alleviates potential issues,” she says.

“We have multiple Bramidan Balers that have been running all day Monday to Friday for years, and they’re still in operation – they are very reliable.”

Elizabeth says the volume received at REDcycle depots is increasing, so the operational reliability of its Bramidan Balers is crucial. She adds that customers are dropping off roughly a million pieces of plastic each day, with the weight of bales produced by REDcycle averaging 260-290 kilos.

“We’ve been working with Wastech for many years, and while we know there are other balers on the market, their product is perfectly suited to our process,” she says.

“Plus, the support we get from Wastech ensures we can keep our processes operating at maximum capacity.”

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