Lake Macquarie Soft and Hard Plastic Recycling

Lead Organisation

Lake Macquarie City Council

Case Study Background

When RedCycle ceased operations in early 2023, Lake Macquarie residents had no available recycling options for soft plastics. Lake Macquarie City Council addressed this void by partnering with Australian Composite Technology Pty Ltd, a plastic remanufacturer who transform hard and soft plastics into a specialty material known as Plasmar that can be used to create a range of products including fence posts, bollards, sleepers, and park benches.

The Vision

Lake Macquarie City Council’s soft and hard plastic recycling project aimed to enhance community sustainability practices by diverting soft plastic from landfill. The project also aimed to reduce the amount of virgin materials used by councils by purchasing products back from the remanufacturing partner to install as community infrastructure.

Benefits and Results

The partnership with Australian Composite Technology began in July 2023. A soft plastic recycling drop-off point was then implemented at the Awaba Community Recycling Centre for Lake Macquarie residents to drop off household quantities of non-foil based soft plastic free of charge. Collection points were also placed in council office spaces for staff. Since the soft plastic recycling launch, Council residents have recycled nearly one tonne of soft plastics.

Collected soft plastics, along with traditionally non-recyclable hard plastics (laundry baskets, planter pots, CDs, DVDs etc) recovered at council waste facilities, are sent to Australian Composite Technology to be transformed into infrastructure that has been purchased back by the Council. In total, Lake Macquarie City Council have procured five bench seats and 40 bollards made of 100% recycled content, that have been installed in community spaces across the LGA. The purchase of these products has effectively diverted 1015kg from landfill. At the end of their life, these products can be sent back for remanufacturing.

The Council are now investigating the implementation of additional drop-off points, likely at the upcoming Belmont Community Recycling Centre. In addition, pending review of the recycled plastic bollards and park benches, Lake Macquarie City Council may look to incorporate these products in future asset replacement programs and new projects.