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New future for advertising banners in Australia with collaborative recycling project 

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The NSW Minister for Environment Mark Speakman has just awarded funding to the Vinyl Council of Australia for a landmark project with the advertising industry for trials to recycle PVC coated banners into new products.

Currently over 1,200,000 m2 (500 tonnes) of advertising banners go to landfills around Australia every year at a significant cost to business and a waste of durable materials.

The challenge is that the banners are made of two excellent polymers (vinyl as a coating over woven polyester) which are hard to separate and reprocess - which is exactly why they are so suited for all weathers and conditions; they are tear-resistant, waterproof, can be welded and are very tough.

This is the same ‘problem’ for other vinyl coated fabrics, including truck tarpaulins and grain covers, all of which currently go to landfill in Australia (total over 6,000 tonnes combined per year) and in most countries around the world.

As a result of this grant, during 2016, a team of university researchers will work with companies and industry associations to crack the puzzle to find a low cost, viable process and useful end product for advertising banners in the first instance, with the possibility of applying to other coated fabrics in the future.

This project will leverage upon results from a smaller project conducted in 2014-15 by Monash University and the Vinyl Council and its members using the same material which identified some possibilities for reprocessing and new products.

‘We are delighted to have created a team of brilliant minds, innovators and leaders in their fields contributing their time, expertise and facilities to find a low cost solution to this world-wide problem and waste of materials. This grant of $68,833 will leverage industry investments for a total budget of $168,132,’ said Helen Millicer, Manager of the Industry Recycling Strategy at the Vinyl Council of Australia.

‘We have skilled research assistants in chemistry at UNSW, industrial designers at Monash University, highly experienced reprocessors at Welvic, innovative and successful manufacturers in PMG Engineering and Close the Loop, and suppliers Rojo Pacific and APN Outdoor who are keen to lead the advertising industry to a more sustainable future’. Together the Vinyl Council of Australia and Outdoor Media Association will provide industry-wide engagement and coordination.

‘This problem is too big to do it alone and therefore we are delighted to have received funding support from the NSW Environment Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, funded from the waste levy. A grant such as this that supports innovation and reprocessing in Australia is a game changer. It means that we can manage a focused and properly resourced project with contributing partners to find viable products and end-market alternatives and thereby prevent loss of quality material to landfill.’

For more information and photos contact:

Helen Millicer, Project Manager, Vinyl Industry Recycling Strategy, Vinyl Council of Australia [email protected],
0413 875 872, www.vinyl.org.au and http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/grants/2015-problem-waste.htm

 



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