Richard Mainey of Port Plastics is committed to boosting regional processing capacity and eliminating landfill, with help from Applied Machinery.
The costs associated with transporting recyclable material to metropolitan areas for processing has long been a burden on Australia’s regional communities.
Resource recovery infrastructure is heavily concentrated in specific areas, meaning recycling viability is constrained and landfill becomes an attractive option.
Tackling that challenge is the central focus of Richard Mainey, who since starting at Port Plastics as an apprentice in the 1980s, has been working towards eliminating plastics from landfill.
Operating primarily as a custom injection moulding and tool making company in Port Macquarie, Port Plastics has been involved in plastics recycling since the late 1970s. Mainey explains that over the last 15 years, however, the company has been ramping up its recycling efforts.
“There is a big call for more plastic recycling in this area. It’s ok if you’re in Sydney, there are facilities close by, but for regional areas it’s a real challenge,” he says.
“When you put these materials on a semi-trailer and send it to Sydney, it’s very hard to break even, meaning the cheapest option is to send it landfill, or as I call it land-kill, which is a crime as far as I’m concerned.”
Mainey says as soon as operators put any milage on plastics, revenue potential is significantly diminished.
He adds that boosting processing and end-market capacity in Port Macquarie was the motivation behind the recent purchase of a Polystar re-pelletiser from Applied Machinery.
The Polystar is designed to be simple to operate and easy to maintain, with output taking the form of high-quality plastic pellets that can be fed back into manufacturing processes – saving raw material costs as well as waste to landfill.
At Port Plastics, Mainey says the machine is primarily used to eliminate contaminants.
“Contaminates, such as labels, metals and even gravel and tar, are a natural part of the plastics recycling process,” he says.
“The Polystar filters out all the contaminants through the screens the plastic has to run through, and as such, makes the moulding side of things much easier.”
Prior to purchasing the Polystar, Mainey says he was doing a lot of re-grinding. The recycled material was then sold onto another company that was using it to manufacture reo-bar chairs that sit underneath reo-bar in concrete.
Because of contamination however, Mainey explains that the material could not be used, as the contaminants were blocking the gates the plastic had to travel to get to the component being moulded.
“I needed to get around that problem, hence the reason for the Polystar Repo Direct,” he says.
While the Polystar has been performing beyond expectations, Mainey says it was Applied’s commitment to its customers that really drove the purchase.
“We’ve been working with Applied for many years. We know how they work with customers and know that no matter what, you’re going to end up with a product you’re very happy with,” he says.
“They’ve been a great company to work with over the years, we’ve never had a problem.”
Mainey adds that following a COVID-19 set back, Applied went above and beyond to help Port Plastics acquire the Polystar.
“We had investors for the Polystar lined up prior to Christmas, but because of COVID-19 they backed out at the last minute,” he says.
“Applied came up with a solution to help us get out of that situation.
“To get that kind of support in this type of industry climate is just amazing. Why wouldn’t you want to work with a company like that?”
According to Mainey, Port Plastics intends to continue the relationship over the long-term, and are now in the process of purchasing a new Genox V1200 single shaft shredder designed to handle both soft plastics and ridged materials.
He adds that he recently received an inquiry from a local area council to see if Port Plastics could make bollards out of recycled milk bottles, which the Genox shredder and Polystar pelletiser will help facilitate.
“We’ve been recycling milk bottles for a couple of years and I’ve made a few bollards, so it’s just about refining that process to turn plastic commodities into something useful,” Mainey says.
“I’ve got a vein running though my body that wants to recycle every bit of plastic going to landfill, and the goal is to get enough equipment to do that. The sky’s the limit.”
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