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Planet Ark has walked back a claim that more than 1m ink cartridges collected under one of its programs were being stored at a recycling facility. Earlier on Thursday, the not-for-profit organisation issued a statement saying 1.1m ink cartridges were being stored at a recycling plant in Melbourne run by Close the Loop.
Planet Ark had said a fire at the Somerton facility in June had meant the processing of the cartridges would be on hold until the middle of 2023. The same fire was partially blamed for the closing this week of a major soft plastic collection and recycling scheme – REDcycle – where more than 5m pieces were dropped by the public at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets each day.
But late on Thursday, Planet Ark issued a clarification saying that processing of the cartridges was continuing at Close the Loop. The statement said: “Close the Loop processes about 16,000 printer consumable units a day and these continue to be received from all sources as per normal. “These cartridges are not being stockpiled, which would refer to a broken supply chain with inactive processes.”
Since Cartridges 4 Planet Ark was launched in 2003, some 50.6m cartridges have been recycled “with zero waste to landfill”, the not-for-profit organisation said.
Close the Loop told Guardian Australia one part of the recycling process that applied to some of the cartridges involved crushing them and, for those, a new line was being built that would increase the capacity to deal with printer consumables.
A Close the Loop spokesperson said: “Nothing is being stored. The printer consumables program – which includes cartridges, but also ink jets, drum units and waste collectors – is running as usual.
“Close the Loop will have increased capacity to process printer consumables once the line upgrade is finished in January, so any bits of consumable waiting to be crushed will very quickly be processed in the normal way.”
The new line would be running by the end of January 2023, but this was unrelated to a fire that had affected a part of the facility that uses ink toner powder and soft plastics to create an additive for road asphalt.
REDcycle, which coordinates the collection of those soft plastics, said on Wednesday that Close the Loop would start accepting its soft plastics again by “early to mid next year when their processing lines are operational again”.
Guardian Australia understands REDcycle is stockpiling about 12,000 tonnes of soft plastic, but the organisation has refused to disclose where the plastics are being stored.
Recycling experts have said the problems for REDcycle reveal a broader issue with a lack of local manufacturing options for collected recyclable materials.
Close the Loop said in a statement to the ASX that the company “reiterates the need for ongoing evolution in the local collection and recycling industry that uses multiple collection, recycling and reuse options as part of a diverse circular economy”.
This article was substantially amended on 10 November 2022 after Planet Ark retracted its earlier incorrect claim that the cartridges were being stored.
AuthorNovember 10, 2022 at 2:56 PM
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