More than a million used printer cartridges returned through a Planet Ark recycling program are being stored until at least the middle of next year.
Planet Ark told the Guardian that printer cartridges cannot currently be recycled due to a fire in June at a recycling facility in Melbourne.
That same fire that halted recycling at Somerton’s Close the Loop plant was also partly blamed for the closure this week of a major soft plastic recycling program supported by Coles and Woolworths.
REDcycle, which coordinates the collection of these soft plastics, said Wednesday that Close the Loop will start accepting its soft plastics again by “early to mid next year when their processing lines are back up and running.”
The Guardian understands that around 12,000 tonnes of soft plastic have been stockpiled.
Planet Ark said the public and businesses should continue to return printer cartridges as usual and that any stock cartridges will eventually be recycled.
A statement from Planet Ark said: “Unfortunately, Close the Loop experienced a fire at its Melbourne-based recycling facility in June 2022 which temporarily limited its ability to recycle.
“There are currently 1.1 million cartridges stored by Close the Loop, all of which will be recycled with the reopening of their recycling facility in 2023. Cartridges will continue to be collected and safely stored until the reopening of the factory, which should be halfway there. -2023.
Since the launch of Cartridges 4 Planet Ark in 2003, around 50.6 million cartridges have been recycled “without any waste to landfill”, the nonprofit organization said.
“Close the Loop is the only cartridge recycling processor in Australia with a zero waste to landfill capability proven over many years of operation. This zero waste to landfill promise remains the environmental commitment of the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program” , said Planet Ark.
Close the Loop uses both flexible plastics and the toner powder from ink cartridges to make a road asphalt additive called TonerPlas.
But a fire in the TonerPlas manufacturing line at the Somerton factory in June halted production.
In a statement to the ASX yesterday, Close the Loop said: “The supply of TonerPlas…is on track to resume full production by mid-2023, with a four-fold increase in magnitude of the operation.”
Recycling experts said REDcycle’s problems reveal a wider problem with a lack of local manufacturing options for the recyclable materials collected.
Close the Loop said the company “reiterates the need for continued evolution in the local collection and recycling industry that utilizes multiple collection, recycling and reuse options as part of a circular economy. diversified”.