Sydney recycling plant to close following “market collapse”

Polytrade Recycling, one of Sydney’s largest recycling plants, will close at the end of March following a collapse in market prices for plastics and paper products, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

“The company is the second largest recycler of contents from yellow-topped bins in Sydney, after Australian waste giant Visy,” the report reads.

“Polytrade has been operating the Rydalmere plant since 2013, handling tens of thousands of tonnes of kerbside recyclables a year.”

As a result of the closure, four Sydney councils – Fairfield, the Inner West, Willoughby and Lithgow – will be forced to find alternative facilities for their kerbside recyclables.

According to the report, Willoughby Council said it “may consider an increase in rates in the future,” due to the cost of an alternative recycler being more than double the price of Polytrade.

“Last week the council began sending recyclables to iQ Renew, which has a plant on the Central Coast, after Polytrade cited China’s waste ban and “subsequent collapse of the international and local recycling market” as reasons for the closure,” the report reads.

Polytrade Group General Manager Tony Lyons told the Sydney Morning Herald that it had become more expensive to recycle in Australia, and “someone needs to pay for it.”

“The lease is ending at Rydalmere and the intention to build a large-scale materials recovery facility in Sydney has been put on hold until we are confident that the gate fee being collected creates a price mechanism that allows that investment,” he said.

Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW Executive Director Tony Khoury said that with world-wide demand for recyclable commodities at a low point, prices have plummeted.

“At the same time, there is a need to clean-up these recyclable materials, as the buyers of these commodities are demanding much lower contamination rates. Our own Federal Government is currently proposing export bans on all manner of mixed recyclables,” he said.

“With councils across NSW currently proposing budgets for the 2020/2021 year, it would be very prudent for them to make a provision for additional recycling processing costs. The extent of these additional funds should be determined by councils in meaningful consultation with their processing contractors.”

The reality is, Mr Khoury said, that the cost of recycling is on the rise, and contractors require additional funds to process materials from kerbside recycling.

“To ensure that we have a sustainable recycling industry, local government, and indeed all waste generators, have to accept that price increases. If not, then it is likely that at some point in time there will be failures in the recycling system.”

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