News, South Australia

$12 million to ‘turbo-charge’ paper and cardboard recycling

The Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA) is heading a new $12 million project that will transform the city’s paper and cardboard recycling capability.

With Federal and State Government funding, and sustained leadership from its Constituent Councils – the Cities of Playford and Salisbury and the Town of Gawler – NAWMA is establishing a plant that will maximise the value of recovered paper and cardboard from yellow-lid kerbside recycling bins.

Establishing an advanced Paper Recycling Plant, proposed to be co-located with its existing Material Recovery Facility at Edinburgh, will allow NAWMA to continue the drive to create jobs through advanced remanufacturing in the northern suburbs.

NAWMA CEO, Adam Faulkner, said the paper and cardboard “clean up” plant would meet new quality benchmarks in paper and cardboard collected from residents’ yellow top recycling bins.

“This will ensure that around 26,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard that NAWMA collects from its kerbside yellow-lid bins each year continues to be recycled to its highest value, creating new jobs in the region’s economy while advancing our aims to reach a national resource recovery target of 80 per cent by 2030,” he said.

“I think our residents expect us to recycle their household recycling right here in the northern region. We are already doing just that, and this project adds more jobs while creating higher value materials that will eventually lead to lower costs for household recycling.”

In March last year, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to ban the export of recovered mixed paper and cardboard that is not below strict contamination guidelines. The ban will be implemented on 1 July 2024. The Federal Government has supported the initiative with a $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund to help turbo charge the nation’s recycling capacity through investment in new infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture recovered products such as paper, cardboard, plastic and glass.

From 1 July 2024, recycled paper and cardboard that does not meet the new standards will be banned from export and local remanufacturers may not have capacity to take all of Australia’s recovered paper products. Faulkner said the Australian Government and the South Australian Government recognised this gap with funding to co-invest in recycling infrastructure that will enable the ongoing recycling of paper and cardboard that will compete on a global scale.

“Green Industries South Australia and NAWMA explored the business case behind building infrastructure to allow the ongoing export of mixed paper and cardboard when the COAG ban is implemented,” he said. “A polishing (or clean up) plant was chosen because it can clean mixed paper and cardboard sold by material recovery facilities such as ours to a specification that meets the highest quality standards. With this visionary funding support from the Federal and State Governments and our Constituent Councils, NAWMA will be consolidating South Australia’s leadership position in recycling and a circular economy. Importantly, the new plant will ease pressure on forest-sourced paper by creating a more circular recovery process, which extends the life of fibre resources. From a local perspective it will help to secure the future of our kerbside yellow-lid bin system, while creating about 60 construction jobs and on-going employment opportunities.”

The project is expected to commence in the new financial year.