Sea the Future: Amcor and Minderoo partner to lower recycled plastic prices worldwide
21 Jun 2022 --- Amcor is joining forces with Australia’s philanthropic organization, the Minderoo Foundation, to form a partnership named “Sea the Future” (STF). The project claims it will unlock US$300 million in investment toward plastic recycling infrastructure globally and produce 150,000 metric tons of virgin grade recycled plastic annually.
STF aims to build a global network of plastic recycling plants, with the first three hubs constructed in Indonesia, the Netherlands and Brazil. Construction of the first sorting and recycling plants will begin within two years.
The partnership is taking aim at the huge disparity between supply and demand of plastic recyclates, which has over the past year driven prices to double in many instances – a result of and threat to industry’s ambitious circular economy aims.
“Unblocking” plastic investments
The project also claims to be a “world-first” and is backed by the government of Indonesia and the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands – the world’s largest seaport outside East Asia.
The investments and increased recycling rates could prevent the incineration, landfilling and littering of 200,000 metric tons of plastic waste each year, according to Minderoo.
An STF spokesperson tells PackagingInsights that the “unblocking” of investments into plastics recycling facilities is essential as “there is hesitancy to invest because there is uncertainty over whether or not there is sufficient demand for recycled plastic.”
“There is much certainty about virgin demand, and the cost is lower. That’s why we are aggregating the demand, securing long-term offtake agreements from partners, which de-risks investment.”
Amcor has agreed to sign offtake agreements that will secure the commercial future of the first three recycling centers currently being designed. Other facilities in new countries are expected to follow.
The spokesperson says these facilities will utilize chemical and mechanical recycling technologies, though they will “aim to process as much mechanically as we can.”
One of STF’s central aims is to drive systemic change across the entire global supply chain, turning waste into a commodity to drive collection efforts, particularly in Southeast Asia, where the region’s extensive coastlines make plastic waste problems especially acute.
Much of the marine pollution plaguing the region is single-use flexible sachets, which provide affordable quantities of essential products to poor consumers and protect products in humid climates.
STF says its efforts with Amcor will also help tackle flexible recycling in these areas, beginning with Indonesia.
“Some might describe a successful outcome as simply a rise in the number of recycled plastic items and a decrease in manufacturing plastic made from fossil fuels. STF goes considerably further in establishing a collaborative coalition that strives to confront the greatest challenges, such as recycling flexible plastics effectively. We focus on polyolefins, and most of the flexible plastic in waste is polyolefin,” says the spokesperson.
Amcor drives circularity
Amcor has been one of the industry’s most effective players in adopting recycled content for packaging products.
“We now purchase 86% more recycled content than two years ago, and we look forward to this partnership helping us further accelerate our delivery of responsible packaging solutions for customers,” says Peter Konieczny, chief commercial officer, Amcor.
The project with STF will unite leading global brands with suppliers to incentivize and catalyze investment in plastics recycling and manufacturing products from recycled plastics that are currently made from virgin resin.
Investors have often linked the slow rate of progress in recycling to the low price of virgin resin made from fossil fuels and the lack of demand for higher-priced recycled plastics. This has also led financial analysts to warn that banks could be “risking billions” in taxpayer money by investing in plastic production.
STF says it will eliminate these barriers and risks by aggregating demand and securing the long-term offtake of demand and feedstock. STF is currently commissioning global Front End Engineering and Design studies at select locations across the globe to identify signature projects that collect, sort and manufacture recycled plastic resin from waste for use by converters.
Amcor and the Minderoo Foundation are now welcoming additional members to the partnership, offering companies from both the consumer goods and petrochemical industries the chance to join as founding members over the coming months.
By Louis Gore-Langton
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.