Envorinex Managing Director Jenny Brown has opened Tasmania’s first soft plastic recycling plant in industrial hub Bell Bay.
Bell Bay is an industrial centre and deep-water port in north Tasmania, best known for its 63-year-old aluminium smelter.
The smelter has a production capacity of 178,000 tonnes per year and supports much of the employment in the region. Other residents include mining and metal companies, timber producers and TasPorts. The 2500-hectare bay is Tasmania’s largest industrial precinct.
To support the region, Envorinex has opened Tasmania’s first soft plastic recycling plant.
The plant will source material from Tasmania’s agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture and industrial industries in an attempt to close the plastic loop and facilitate growth.
Envorinex has been operating in Tasmania since Managing Director Jenny Brown purchased the plant and equipment following the closure of SVP Industries in 2009.
“Tasmania has a large industrial and commercial industry sector and the state produces a lot of waste, much of which couldn’t be locally recycled before,” Jenny says.
Tasmania’s island geography creates an impost on interstate transportation. Sending waste across the Tasman is expensive, even prohibitively so, and given the lack of market value for soft plastics, largely unsustainable.
“We thought it important to work around that reality and develop a solution to the excess,” Jenny says.
Supporting the state’s industrial and commercial industries was a driving motivation behind commissioning the new facility.
“The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation is doing a lot of great work in the state to increase the recycling rates and product stewardship of packaging, so we didn’t feel it necessary to get involved in that space,” Jenny says.
“There is a lot of industry in this area so we decided to design a plant to work with that – sourcing from industrial, commercial, aquacultural and horticultural sites and also producing products they can buy.”
To turn her idea into reality, Jenny enlisted the help of Applied Machinery, which designed and supplied the plant and equipment, offering Envorinex a complete turnkey proposal.
Envorinex and Applied Machinery have worked together for over a decade after Applied Machinery supplied the recycler with a Genox shredder in 2009.
Applied Machinery recommended, and eventually supplied, a fully integrated Genox plastic washing system. Jenny says the plant is designed to recover rigid and flexible plastics, including those with high contamination levels.
“The plant design is modular, meaning we could configure the setup and individual components based on our specific application needs,”
It includes a four-stage washing system with a pre-washer, float-sink washing tanks and horizontal friction washer. Additionally, Applied Machinery sourced a centrifugal dryer, film press and trommel screen.
The Genox washing plant is suited to post-consumer and industrial products, facilitating the production of high purity and low moisture flakes and pellets for sale or reprocessing.
“Applied Machinery were really great to work with. They even took us to the Genox manufacturing plant in Guangzhou China to source specific components and learn about the product,” Jenny says.
“It was an informative trip as we were able to observe all of the processes and people that contribute to manufacturing a plant of this scale. We also travelled to Beijing where we inspected a similar line in operation.”
Jenny says after the official order was made, Genox representatives visited the Envorinex factory to provide assistance and optimise the line’s layout.
Additionally, after the line was complete, Envorinex and Applied Machinery travelled to the Genox plant to observe it in operation prior to shipping.
Jenny says the plant’s pre-washing system was a key factor in Envorinex’s decision to purchase the equipment.
“The pre-washer removes a large portion of abrasive material, which protects the rest of the system and enables a longer life,” Jenny says.
“The high-speed washing system then liberates and separates contamination from film flakes.”
According to Jenny, the resulting material has a less than five per cent moisture rate, making it perfect for high quality pelletising.
“Applied was very proactive on this project and committed to fulfilling our specific requirements from the get go,” Jenny says.
“Envorinex produces very little waste and what we do produce is recycled back into our products. The new plant will help us keep that sustainability going.”
The new Bell Bay plant is capable of processing 500 kilograms of material an hour. Jenny says the facility will therefore be able to process 1500 tonnes of plastic film a year.
“The fully integrated washing system Applied Machinery supplied has a modular design, meaning Envorinex could easily double that capacity if needed,” she adds.
The plant can process a variety of plastic films including silage wrap, plastic film, fertiliser bags, shrink wrap and plastic bags, turning them into plastic pellets for use in multiple products.
“The pellets will be used in our existing products like our permeable pavement grids, and once we’re totally up and running we are going to start manufacturing a new line of fence posts,” Jenny says.
“We can then sell those products back into the markets they were sourced from which can be recycled again in another 30 years.”