From humble beginnings, Australia Paper Recovery (APR) is continuing to grow its ‘glass out’ service. As Darren Thorpe tells Waste Management Review, greater uptake of the APR service from local councils is a promising sign.
Since its origins in wastepaper, plastic, and cardboard collection in 2002, Australia Paper Recovery (APR) is continuing to develop its commercial and industrial (C&I) processing capabilities.
With five facilities across Victoria, including a materials recovery facility in Truganina, a C&I processing site in Dandenong, and a shredding facility in Fairfield, APR has a maintained focus on providing waste sorting services for councils such as the Yarra City Council.
For APR Managing Director Darren Thorpe, the next stage in the company’s advancement is the development of its successful ‘glass out’ approach.
“When councils conduct kerbside collections, glass shards can get mixed in with paper and cardboard. Once compacted by the collection truck, it is very hard to separate the glass through treatment,” he says.
“That’s why it has been critical to sort glass contamination for the efficient treatment of waste.”
Using a singular resource stream for collection exponentially increases the chance of glass contamination with general waste. Other than fibres, Darren explains that glass is the largest source of contamination within kerbside resources today.
“We can encourage residents to stop putting glass into the wrong bins but for the circular economy we need to find outcomes for materials such as soft plastics and glass,” he says.
“Reducing the contamination is the key to providing an end-of-life cycle for glass products for re-use throughout the market.”
With its “way of the future” facility, the APR is servicing the collection needs of Yarra City Council.
Joe Agostino, City Works Manager at Yarra City Council, says the APR ‘glass out’ service provides a whole new level of efficiency for its kerbside collection service.
“We’ve rolled out a separate purple lid glass bin, removing the chances of glass contamination in the commingled recycling. APR specifically sort the remaining recycling through what would otherwise be a heavily contaminated commingled recycling product,” he says.
“Glass in the commingled recycling has been a problem for many years as it causes quality problems. The glass bin has given us high quality glass, which is now suitable for re-production within our local glass manufacturing market.”
Joe adds that supporting a circular economy throughout the Yarra City Council region is a top priority.
“We are assisting to drive that local market with re-using that recycled glass and commingled recycling rather than ship that product overseas,” he says.
“If you have recyclable materials which are mixed with glass you are clearly going to get a reduction in quality for that product. With APR we are seeing higher yields and increased quality, which are both essential for a sustainable kerbside system.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions throughout Victoria, more people were disposing of an increased volume of kerbside waste.
This caused the contamination levels of glass within waste to rise, and increased the need for a resilient and proven sorting system.
“Councils have been doing a lot of work with residents to educate them around separating glass from plastics. We have seen contamination levels spike and dip, and this may continue over time,” Darren says.
“To achieve a different outcome, we need to make changes. The residents in these councils required time to adapt to change which was expected. Even as we work with more councils, we are improving our own education around glass treatment.”
Waiting is another factor that Darren says has affected the embracing of APR services.
“People need to know that the ‘glass out’ facility is ready, that it works in removing glass from kerbside waste,” he says.
Since its focus is on quality, APR is now shifting its sights onto the further growth of its operation. This will include an increase in quantity of waste sorting throughout its facilities.
With all Victorian councils being required to have access to glass recycling services by 2027, which will include the introduction of the purple lidded glass bin, Darren believes the uptake of APR services will only increase.
“We expect our output to almost triple in the next few years. Councils who are ahead of the curve are being prepared for the 2027 requirements. These are the councils who will have a successful transition period,” he says.
“We want to help with this rollout and with embracing the new. With so much unknown currently in the world due to factors such as COVID, there has been a tendency to rely on conventional methods.
“It’s time for APR to take that next step with our council and C&I customers into the unknown.”
For more information, visit australianpaperrecovery.com