Recycled beverage carton walls for Aussie buildings

saveBOARD CEO Paul Charteris with waste material and product samples. Image Provided:
Media Release by saveBOARD

Australian builders will soon be able to replace plywood, particle board, and plaster board with low carbon, environmentally sustainable construction boards made from packaging waste such as used beverage cartons and coffee cups.

saveBOARD Australia has received a $1.74 million grant from the Federal and New South Wales Government towards setting up a $5 million facility that will turn packaging waste into high performance building material. The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund and the NSW Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

The Australian and NSW Governments and the companies behind the project expect the facility will create confidence in a new market for recycled construction materials, similar to roads made from recycled glass, and enable more packaging to become 100 per cent recyclable, in line with national packaging targets.

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) says this is a fantastic step forward for beverage cartons and for the brands and consumers that use this important type of packaging. “It is great to see this level of collaboration across the entire supply chain, addressing post-consumer materials by putting in place effective local end-market solutions,” says Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO.

“This is a prime example of the collective impact model in practice which will help establish a manufacturing capacity in Australia. Led by industry with the support of government, APCO will continue to support this type of collaboration as we work to transition to a circular economy for packaging and meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets.”

The project is the first collaboration between Tetra Pak and SIG Combibloc in Australia under the umbrella of the Global Recycling Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (GRACE) and is a joint initiative with saveBOARD and its supporters Freightways and Closed Loop.

saveBOARD co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Paul Charteris says making high-performance low-carbon building materials using 100% recycled materials from everyday waste is a game-changer that will transform the construction industry in Australia. “It will enhance the construction industry’s drive towards more sustainable construction practices.”

The first Australian saveBOARD plant will reprocess liquid paperboard beverage containers, including both aluminium-lined aseptic packages and non aluminium-lined containers collected through the container deposit scheme and coffee cups collected through the ‘Simply Cups’ recycling program. It will also source material from document recycling company Shred-X.

Together with supplementary material from industrial processes, these items will be used to manufacture high-performance low-carbon building products to substitute plaster board, particle board, and oriented strand board (OSB) that can be used for interior and exterior applications.

The saveBOARD process uses heat and compression to bond materials, eliminating the need for glues or other chemical additives, to produce a clean product with zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), suitable for use in homes and commercial buildings.

Tetra Pak Oceania Managing Director Andrew Pooch says the solution demonstrates Tetra Pak’s commitment and contribution to a low carbon economy. “It is more than just an investment for us. It is the right thing to do – to help limit waste to landfill and support a technology that improves local waste collection and recycling infrastructure. Cartons are the most sustainable packaging option for beverages in Australia. With a bespoke whole carton recycling solution, we are excited to contribute to a robust circular economy in Australia.”

SIG Combibloc Australia & New Zealand General Manager Adam Lipscomb says his company is delighted to support this first full recycling solution for beverage cartons on Australian soil. “Ensuring beverage cartons are recycled at scale in markets we operate in is of utmost importance to SIG. This project is a key milestone towards achieving full onshore recycling capability for beverage cartons in Australia, and we look forward to seeing it come to fruition as soon as possible.  SIG is united with its partners in working to ensure beverage cartons remain the premier sustainable choice for food and beverage packaging in Australia and we are committed to ensuring every carton we produce is recycled.” 

Freightways, Chief Executive Officer Mark Troughear says its investment in saveBOARD allows the logistics company to grow its waste renewal division through a commitment to circular waste solutions with minimal carbon kilometres, all while providing a new strategic growth category. “saveBOARD completes an end-product solution for Freightways, where waste can be regenerated and reused into world class products while utilising our core capabilities in pick-up, process and delivery channels,” says Mr Troughear.

Closed Loop Managing Director Rob Pascoe says saveBOARD products will be the lowest carbon footprint interior and exterior board products on the market.  “saveBOARD promises a better, greener, more affordable solution that can lead us towards a more sustainable future. It’s the perfect example of the circular economy in action,” says Mr Pascoe.