With the construction industry responsible for over 30% of the extraction of natural resources and 25% of all solid waste generated worldwide, there is an increasing need for building materials to be recyclable.
These percentages coupled with the combustible cladding crisis that requires immediate attention, is why Fairview has looked to create the first Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP) recycling solution for recladding waste.
Ecoloop has been in effect since January 2021, and gives the Australian construction industry a recycling system that completely diverts ACP materials from landfill and repurposes them in various degrees.
With an estimated 4 million square meters of ACP in the process of being removed from Australian buildings, Ecoloop may well become an alternative option for cladding disposal.
Cladding panels are expensive and will not break down over time. An ACP consists of aluminium panel skins, a 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.
Ecoloop’s recycling process is the sum of various moving parts. Fairview trucks pick up the old panels after delivering the new products, which initially minimises carbon footprint. They are then taken back to the Ecoloop facility in Lithgow, where they are weighed and recorded. Once weighed, the panels almost instantly enter the recycling process, with all components shredded. Upon reaching a manageable size, the materials enter the Ecoloop Separator. This separates the aluminium from the panel core, any ferrous metals and the mixed residuals. Once the materials have been separated, they are bagged and distributed for repurposing.
The aluminium pieces are sent to a 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 flower pots and commercial landscape drains. The ferrous metals go to a metal recycler for the reproduction of new metal products, and the mixed residuals of the panels are diverted into the waste to energy process which offsets the use of coal.
Fairview says that it is working with universities and other research bodies to track and report where the materials end up, as well as their end use. 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.