At Halve Waste, we want to spotlight and support individuals, groups and businesses that are “doing good” and helping us to reach our target of reducing our waste.
The spotlight is on Plastic Forests located at 21 Union Road, North Albury. We had the opportunity to speak to the Managing Director, David Hodge about how Plastic Forests is a local solution for a national problem. Plastic Forests is a local recycling company that processes used soft plastics and manufactures innovative recycled products to create a ‘circular economy’ for plastics.
How long have you been operating and why did you start the business?
Plastic Forests started in a rural town in Victoria called Strathmerton in 2011 and relocated to North Albury in 2017. Waste is a huge problem and soft plastics (or plastic films) are particularly hard to recycle, but we decided that it was a problem that we could tackle. Our goal is to make the world a better place for our kids and future generations.
What type of plastic does your business recycle?
Our company focuses on diverting from landfill and recycling the following soft plastic materials from large scale businesses including:
We have the capability of recycling HDPE (high density polyethylene), LDPE (low density polyethylene), LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene) & PP (polypropylene).
What products do you make and sell with the recovered plastics?
Plastic Forests initially started making garden edging and resin (plastic granules). The resin was sold to other manufacturers, but now we use most of the resin ourselves onsite to make the following products:
All our products can be bought from our website, with two more exciting products that will be released in the upcoming months.
How much of the plastic that you process gets sent away to other businesses to be used?
In the past we would clean and process the used soft plastics here and turn it into resin to send off to other manufacturers. However, we have developed our own technology to make recycled items so that now nearly 100% of the plastic film that comes here is recycled into products ourselves. One of the challenges of the recycling industry is that we are constantly needing to adapt to change, and that’s exactly what we have been doing. By making new products out of recovered plastic we are working towards a circular economy and keeping materials cycling through the economy longer.
What does the term ‘circular economy’ refer to?
Australians have become a throw away society which means that we are constantly using new resources to make new things – it’s a linear process. By throwing items into landfill we effectively end that product’s ability to ever be used again. However, the more we make new items out of used resources by recycling and reprocessing, the more we ‘close the loop’ and create a circular economy. The term refers to reducing the amount of raw materials that are needed to make new items by recycling and reprocessing the materials that are already in circulation.
What is your main challenge and what can the local community do to support recycling companies like Plastic Forests?
The main issue that most Australian recycling companies are facing at the moment is that there is little demand for recycled plastic items as individuals, government and businesses are not buying it.
In reality, recycling doesn’t take place until someone buys a recycled product. The best way to support businesses like us is to buy recycled items. Not only does it help improve the market by creating demand, but it also helps create a circular economy – where instead of permanently disposing of items, we are using those materials again which saves our precious resources.
How much plastic film can your company divert from landfill and reprocess each year?
Our facility has the capacity to divert and recycle 6,000 tonnes per annum of used soft plastics– that’s equivalent to 1 billion plastic shopping bags each year!
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