ResourceCo opens new glass recycling plant

glass recycling plant

ResourceCo is taking on previously unrecyclable waste with a new multi-million-dollar recycling facility in South Australia. 

ResourceCo’s latest purpose-built recycling plant is dedicated to tackling the most challenging aspect of glass resource recovery.

Pushing the button to start the new facility at Wingfield in September, South Australian Deputy Premier Dr Susan Close said resource recovery is essential if the state is to transition to a circular economy and achieve net zero avoidable waste to landfill.

“As our finite resources diminish, circular economy infrastructure such as ResourceCo’s new glass recycling plant allows us to maximise the potential of material that would otherwise be sent to landfill,” Close said.

The South Australian Government (via Green Industries SA), in partnership with the Federal Government, provided $1,078,000 grant funding for the plant – part of the Recycling Modernisation Fund.

The official opening follows trials with local material recovery facilities (MRF) to repurpose glass collected from the state’s household waste, culminating in a foundational partnership between ResourceCo and nearby MRF, Central Adelaide Waste and Recycling Authority (CAWRA).

glass recycling plant
ResourceCo’s new glass recycling facility is a complete landfill diversion.

Brad Lemmon, ResourceCo’s Chief Executive Officer Recycling and Waste, says it’s an important step in providing an alternative to landfill for waste that was previously difficult to recycle.

“This investment is very much part of the heritage and DNA of ResourceCo,” Brad says.

“It’s an extension of what we’ve been doing over the past 30 years – taking a relatively basic recycling concept and improving and expanding that in terms of capacity, scope, complexity of waste we can deal with, and the breadth of products we can produce.

“It’s taking ResourceCo’s operation to the next level.”

The plant – built next door to ResourceCo’s crushing circuit at Wingfield – will have capacity to process about 20,000 tonnes per year of glass not suitable for returning to recycled glass. 

It’s been built with a range of classification and clean-up processes, which means a much poorer quality of waste glass can be processed. 

As a result of ResourceCo’s integrated resource recovery operations, the new glass recycling facility is a complete landfill diversion. 

Any residual material becomes processed-engineered fuel, while clean glass is crushed into particles suitable for use as drainage sand and other sand products. It can also be used as a fine aggregate component of asphalt.

Brad says the plant will put more glass-based sand into the marketplace.

“There’s strong demand for the product and plenty of waste material out there,” Brad says. “If you can turn glass back into glass, that’s the primary objective. But there is always going to be a component of that material where that can’t happen. ResourceCo’s role is to close that gap.

“As we improve our processes and continue to look for ways to increasingly take more complex or dirty waste, it will give us access to more glass that we can turn into product.”

Throughout the initial trials, ResourceCo was selective about the waste coming in to ensure there were no quality issues with the end sand product. There were also limitations with the normal crushing circuit.

For the new plant, ResourceCo partnered with Australian Bale Press Company, a New South Wales-based organisation that specialises in the design and manufacture of resource recovery systems for kerbside recycling, commercial and industrial waste and construction and demolition.

Brad says the success of the plant is that it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It’s combining proven technology, and ResourceCo’s experience processing different waste, with equipment that is designed for purpose.

“When you look at the waste going into the front and high-quality sand coming out of the back end, it’s impressive,” Brad says.

glass recycling plant
The new recycling facility will put more glass-based sand into the marketplace.

“It’s a really good example of taking a proven process, then using it as leverage in the next step of recovering material from more complex waste streams.”

One of those complex waste streams is laminated glass. It contains a layer of film within a layer of glass that is difficult to liberate and problematic if it ends up in sand.

Brad says it’s a challenge, and an opportunity, to find a process to break down that material. If ResourceCo can crack laminated glass, all of a sudden there’s access to another component of glass that currently ends up in landfill because it’s difficult to deal with.

The Wingfield plant is the first for ResourceCo and Brad says the company is looking to make similar investments across the country. He’s quick to point out that without government investment, infrastructure such as the Wingfield plant would not be possible.

He says, it’s a demonstration of how funding, if well directed and well placed, creates the right outcomes.

“If not for government support this plant may not necessarily have happened.”

Joining Close, who is also the South Australian Minister for Climate, Environment and Water and the local MP for the area, at the plant opening was Nikki Govan, Chairperson of the Green Industries SA Board.

Close said the South Australian Government is pleased to be partnering with industry, local and federal governments to invest in infrastructure such as ResourceCo’s glass recycling plant.

“From grant funding, to supplying feedstock through material recovery facilities and procurement opportunities for off-take products, the partnership is truly collaborative.”  

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