For decades, China was the world’s leading destination for recyclable waste, tackling approximately 45% of the world’s total waste on its own. That is until early 2018 when it began to implement stricter policies on what waste it would accept from developed countries like Australia. This crackdown was a significant effort to reduce China’s pollution, protect its environment, and improve public health and quality of life.
China’s limits are now so strict that countries are forced to look elsewhere, either by exporting to other countries who will accept the waste or tackling it in their own backyards.
Melbourne-based Chinese entrepreneur, Harry Wang, decided on the latter and now runs a $20 million facility in Melbourne’s outer north that provides a home-grown solution to Australia’s plastic waste crisis. “I saw this as being a big demand, the need for some local facility to solve the problem,” Mr Wang said.
His company, Advanced Circular Polymers (ACP), “closes the loop” of a cycle that would otherwise involve exporting our waste to China, only for it to be made into products and imported back to Australia. A process that took 18 months to design, Mr Wang imported machines from the US, employed over 50 Melbourne locals, and uses advanced technology such as artificial intelligence to refine the process and sort through the plastics thoroughly. ACPprocesses approximately 70,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year, which is 47% of the plastic waste recovered in Victoria. After being sorted, the plastics are washed in boiling water, cut into small flakes, and sold to manufacturers to make a range of products.
How does a home-grown solution benefit Australia and our businesses?
1.We’re no longer contributing to overseas pollution
The reason for China’s ban was not to send the developed nations into a waste crisis, but to protect its own environment. It has encouraged us to develop alternative solutions. Mr Wang’s solution is the first of many to give Australian businesses the peace of mind that we can act sustainably and ethically, by no longer dumping our plastic waste problems to other parts of the world. After all, we all share the one planet, so exporting our waste to other parts of the globe could never have been a long term solution.
2. We’re tackling our own issue ourself
China’s ban has affected a great number of developed countries, but rather than finding another developing nation to send our waste to, Australia is tackling our crisis in our own backyard – which is what Victoria’s state government greatly encourages. As part of its $135 million package to “strengthen the fragile waste and recycling industry by encouraging new players,” the Victorian government funded $500,000 to the ACP. The bid to “encourage new players” is to explore new local opportunities and solutions.
Tackling the issue ourself is also highly beneficial to Australian waste management providers, like our team here at Nationwide Waste Solutions, and our clients. Bypassing the exportation process and fees gives us better control over waste management fees, with great potential to save your business money in the long run.
3. We can trust in local processes
A problem we face in the waste management industry is the amount of recyclable materials that end up in landfill. Although waste is tracked, a local state-of-the-art facility gives us better control over how sustainable Australian waste processing practices are. We can trust in local reputability, innovative technology, and thorough processes that no recyclable gets left un-recycled.
“As long as they [the plastics] are in the recycle system, they can be recycled again,” said Mr Wang. “The circle is endless.”
This new solution ensures that your business is contributing to ethical work.
4. It creates more jobs for locals
It’s important to note that ACP plant is located in an area that has seen major businesses such as Ford shut down in recent years. Mr Wang has employed 53 Melbourne locals, many of which had endured long-term unemployment.
5. It contributes to the Australian economy
The ACP’s ultimate goal is to provide reusable plastic materials, which are processed into small flakes, to manufacturers. “There’s a lot of manufacturing that relies on recycled products. The demand is huge and still growing. Most of our products will be sold locally in Australia,” said Mr Wang. He also explains that ACP is “exploring the market in Europe and the US, because in the developed countries we have the regulations, and people care more about using recycled materials, so the demand just keeps growing.”
Does your business produce a lot of plastic waste? Nationwide Waste Solutions is one of Australia’s leading waste management providers. We ensure sustainable solutions at a competitive price. Speak to one of our trusted experts about your options on 1300 729 922, visit our website, or book a free quote here.
Related: Our post about glass recycling