A New Zealand company turning food and beverage packaging into valuable building materials has been given a shot in the arm to go towards building a new facility in Australia.

SaveBoard has received a A$1.74 million grant from the Australian and New South Wales Governments towards setting up the A$5 million facility in New South Wales.

This will mean that Australian builders could soon replace plywood, particleboard and plasterboard, with low carbon, environmentally sustainable construction boards made from packaging waste such as used beverage cartons and coffee cups.

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.”

SaveBoard has the Asian Pacific distribution rights for waste-to-building material technology developed in the United States where it has been widely used for more than a decade.

Currently, the company has a plant at Te Rapa near Hamilton that is recycling post-production industrial packaging waste from Fonterra and Frucor into construction boards that can be ordered now for December 2021 delivery.

The Australian and NSW Governments and the companies behind the NSW 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% 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 APCO CEO, Brooke Donnelly.

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.

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 landfills 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 and New Zealand general manager Adam Lipscomb says SIG is delighted to support this first full recycling solution for beverage cartons on Australian soil.

“Cartons are the premier sustainable choice for food and beverage packaging in Australia, and today’s announcement further strengthens our leadership position. This project is a key milestone towards achieving full circularity for beverage cartons in Australia, and we look forward to seeing it come to fruition.”

The first Australian SaveBoard plant will reprocess liquid paperboard beverage containers, including both aluminum-lined aseptic packages and non-aluminum lined containers collected through the container deposit scheme and coffee cups collected through the ‘Simply Cups’ recycling programme. 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 plasterboard, particleboard, 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.

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 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.”