Recyclable plastic comes full circle

Astron Plastics explains how Applied Machinery helped the company take advantage of the national recycling boom.

Recycling rates nationwide are rising at a rapid rate, according to the Federal Government’s Australian State of the Environment (SoE) 2016 report.

The SoE concluded that between 2006/07 and 2010/11 the resource recovery rate in Australia increased from 51 to 60 per cent.

In order to meet the rising demand for more recycling capacity, businesses across Australia are finding new ways to increase productivity. Astron Plastics is one of the many beneficiaries of the recycling industry’s growth and has traditionally focused on collecting clean plastic waste from manufacturers in Australia.

The plastic is inspected and graded before undergoing extensive processing where it is shredded, granulated and extruded into the various recycled resins – including HDPE, LDPE and polypropylene. The recycled resin is then sold to manufacturers to process into a range of products, including pot plants, drainage systems, irrigation pipe, mobile garbage bins and recycled sheet products.

Earlier this year, Astron Plastics approached Applied Machinery to look at improving the plastics washing capability at the Astron site in Melbourne.

The solution offered by Applied Machinery was a Genox “Universal” Washing Plant, which was installed recently. It has enabled both rigid and flexible plastics to be washed and dried, prior to processing into recycled plastic granules or finished plastic product for resale.

Michael Viney, Operations Manager, explains that prior to the installation of the Genox plant, hundreds of tonnes of post-industrial and post-consumer material was being turned away due to unacceptable contamination levels.

The material is now able to be processed through the existing Astron recycling equipment.

Michael says Astron Sustainability has reduced its cost to process contaminated plastic waste, while providing a higher quality product for its customers.

He says the boost in productivity will allow the company to expand its business by increasing the type and volume of material accepted for recycling.

“Before we purchased the Genox wash plant, we had a lot of manually intense systems that couldn’t make the process of washing dirty plastic commercially viable.

“With the Genox plant, our productivity has increased and we can begin accepting contaminated post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste.”

Michael explains that the Genox Plastic Wash Plant uses a series of rotating screws and paddles to wash the plastic – a process akin to a washing machine.

Specific plastic floats on top of the machine while dirt and other contaminates fall and separate from the plastic into the water below.

The plastic emerges as clean, washed granulate, which is then blown into a centrifugal cyclone to dry.

The dry flake material is stored in bulk bags prior to being extruded into recycled resin format, which can be sold into the market.

“This recycled resin pellet is sold to manufacturers to make products such as wheelie bins, pot plants and use in the electrical civil infrastructure sector as underground cable cover,” Michael says.

He adds these projects wouldn’t be possible without a strong relationship with Applied Machinery, which guided Astron through the entire process.

“They provide consistent service and importantly their after-sale support and ability to assist with the installation and commissioning is second to none.”

Read the full story on page 40 of Issue 13. 

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