A company that packages plastic waste into a new generation of building materials

In a circular economy, there are words and there are actions.

Chris Collimore, supply chain specialist, says, “There’s no shortage of ideas. There are a million of them.”

“But the big gap is commercial sustainability.”

Collimore, country manager at startup saveBOARD, is one of the people who turned the concept into reality.

SaveBOARD’s first Australian manufacturing plant will launch next month in Warragamba, southwest of Sydney, with two more plants in the pipeline.

The company makes construction products entirely from used beverage cartons, soft plastics, single-use coffee cups, and similar products that would otherwise end up in landfills.

A strong, lightweight alternative to traditional gypsum board, plywood and particle board, it is fully recyclable.

All offcuts can be reused, but saveBOARDS past their useful life can be remanufactured for their next refurbishment or commercial repair.

The process uses significantly less carbon than producing traditional building products and uses heat and compression to bond the raw materials, eliminating the need for adhesives and chemical additives.

“It’s basically like toasting a big piece of cheese,” Collymore says.

“After heating and cooling several times, the plastic melts through the interstices of the fibers.

“It’s a simple process, yet focused on reducing problematic waste … materials that, until we came along, were not fully recyclable and were collected by container deposit schemes.”

Lisa McLean, Chief Executive Officer of Circular Australia, believes that in order to extract maximum value, renewable products follow a hierarchy of nine principles: Discard, Rethink, Reuse, Repair, Refurbish, Remanufacture, Reuse, Recycle and Recover. I advocate economics.

“Australia alone has the potential to realize huge savings worth $2 trillion over 20 years,” she recently said at the Commonwealth Bank’s annual sustainability conference in Sydney.

“For example, these potential savings could be realized by reusing valuable resources such as plastic, glass, stone and metal that currently end up in landfills.

“Furthermore, buildings and equipment can be repaired and adapted rather than replaced.”

Collymore said a real solution also requires strong partnerships.

SaveBOARD has contracts with container deposit schemes across Australia and expects to have full collection available within the next few months.

Packaging and retailers, including major supermarket chains, are helping as well.

The saveBOARD plant is already in operation in Hamilton, New Zealand, diverting 40 tonnes of waste from landfills each year.


Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.