FVA Group, formerly Fairview Architectural, has invested $1.6m in Ecoloop, its recycling solution for recladding waste established in response to State Government’s mandated removal of polyethylene. The company has released more details about the operation, including a video that takes a look inside the facility at Lithgow, NSW.
With more emphasis being placed on sustainability and the circular economy, it’s more important than ever to rethink rectification and cladding waste, the company says. Ecoloop has now been fully operational and processing ‘non-compliant’ cladding waste from rectification projects across Australia since its launch in January 2021.
“Ecoloop is Australia’s first ACP recycling solution for recladding waste," says Fairview. "The process sees ‘non-compliant cladding‘ waste from rectification projects recycled and repurposed, diverting up to 100% of non-compliant ACP cladding from landfill. Ecoloop remains the only recycling program in Australia which can process both PE and FR waste.
“Since the Lacrosse tower fire in November 2014 which highlighted the concerns of combustible cladding, Australian governments have been working to ensure building and occupant safety. This was accelerated by the Grenfell tragedy in June 2017. The focus has been on Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP). However, the cladding crisis is now becoming an environmental one. With an estimated 4 million square meters of ACP in the process of being removed from Australian buildings, the question is where does this removed panel go?
“The options are landfill, export, and Australian processing, such as Ecoloop. For panels which are inherently valuable, landfill is an unsustainable and poor option. The quantity of panel is significant and will not break down entirely over time.
“Export is not an easy option, and needs to be a last resort. Some Australian scrap traders will accept ACP and ship it to developing nations, claiming to recycle it. The aluminium may be recycled, but in hazardous and impactful ways. This is neither ethical or sustainable, and the government is rightly tightening their export policies.
“So, we need Australian processing. Unlike other recycling practices, Ecoloop provides an Australian solution following Australian Standards using Australian workers.”
Aluminium Composite Panel, as it comes off the wall of a building, consists of four key components: the aluminium panel skins; the polyethylene panel core; ferrous metals including screws and steel flashings; and the mixed residuals including sealant, backing rod, paint, tapes, and all other components that make up a façade.
100% diversion from landfill
“Any repurposing in Australia needs to consider these four components to ensure 100% diversion from landfill,” says Fairview. “So, how is 100% diversion from landfill achieved? Firstly, Fairview trucks pick up the panels after delivering new product, creating a backload service to minimise carbon footprint.
“The panels are brought back to Lithgow, where they are accurately weighed and recorded. Shortly afterwards, to minimise storage onsite the panels enter the process. This starts with a primary shred, of all components. Once down into manageable size pieces, the material enters the Ecoloop Separator. This separates the aluminium from the panel core, any ferrous metals and the mixed residuals. Once separated, the materials are bagged and distributed for repurposing.”
Aluminium is sent to an aluminium smelter to be made into new aluminium products, such as window frames, park benches and building products. Polyethylene is sent to a plastic manufacturer to be repurposed into new and safe plastic products, such as concrete bar chairs, flower pots, commercial landscape drains and pits, piping, plastic pallets and bottles. Ferrous metals go to a metal recycler for the reproduction of new metal products. Mixed residuals – unlike any other ACP recycling process, Ecoloop diverts any remaining non-recyclable fractions into the Waste to energy process which in turn is used to offset the use of coal.
“An important part of the process is reporting on where the materials end up and their end use,” Fairvew says. “Possible uses and innovative applications for the recycled material, continue to be investigated through our engagement with leading universities and research and technology organisations.
“In addition, reporting and independent auditing will provide our clients with statistics on how Ecoloop has helped them lessen their environmental impact now and into the future.”
Contact Fairview at firstname.lastname@example.org