Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Plastic pot collection bin
Recycling

Advancing horticulture through closed-loop recycling and product innovation

The Plastic Smart Program, a joint venture between Garden City Plastics (GCP), Norwood Industries, and Polymer Processors, is driving innovation, sustainability, and growth in the Australian horticulture sector. This collaborative effort aims to establish an innovative infrastructure that enables the industry and its communities to consume and reuse plastic in a sustainable way.

Recyclable plastic plays a crucial role in the horticulture industry, with millions of kilograms sold annually as finished goods. Recognising the environmental impact, the joint venture is committed to addressing this challenge.

Since the program’s launch in 2020, over 1 million kilograms of plastic destined for landfill have been collected and recycled. This significant achievement to date has been made possible through the participation of more than 100 partners, the installation of over 700 collection bin sites, and the free collection service.

To raise awareness and educate stakeholders, the joint venture has engaged in various community-based initiatives. These include displays and presentations at commercial and industry events, conferences with industry bodies, talk-back radio interviews, and delegations to State Parliaments.

Collaborations with organisations such as ‘Recycle Mate’ and Greenlife Industry Australia have also extended the program’s reach.

The Plastic Smart Program continues to evolve and leverages closed-loop recycle principles, ensuring minimal waste and maximum utilisation of resources throughout the product life cycle.

Here’s how the program works:

  1. Collection and Sorting: Plastic products like pots, trays, and labels are collected from nurseries and gardening centres across Australia. Sorting occurs before they are collected, using steel cages for most products and pallets to optimise transport efficiency. Growers play a vital role in this process to assist with keeping costs and impact low.
  • Sustainable Product Development: Garden City Plastics and Polymer Processors continue to invest in state-of-the-art equipment to efficiently process materials and produce new, innovative, and sustainable products optimised for production and transport.

Expanded Capabilities: Polystyrene (PS6) Products

The Plastic Smart Program has expanded its capabilities to include the collection of Polystyrene (PS6) products. This significant development enables the collection and recycling of the second most used plastic items in the horticulture industry – cell plug trays and punnets. This is possible through the investment in technology, collection methods and new processing equipment.

Furthermore, a new range of Cell Plug Tray products, manufactured in Australia,  have been introduced. Cell sizes include 50, 105, 128, 288 and 512, and are delivered in cartons and bulk pallet quantities. All are based on the European footprint and can now be 100% closed-loop recycled as part of the Plastic Smart Program.

The joint venture is assisting with propelling the Australian Nursery and Garden Industry toward a sustainable and innovative future. Through their collective efforts, they have achieved significant progress, embraced closed-loop recycling, and continue to introduce new products that meet industry demands while minimising environmental impact.

NGI members, businesses, and retailers are invited to join the program by contacting Garden City Plastics at 1300 695 098 or visiting the sustainability section on the GCP website or PP5.com.au.

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