Penguin Composites

Image of fibre composite offcuts

Recycling program

Penguin Composites manufactures high-quality fibre composite products for global supply chains in the defence, marine, energy and automotive industries.

A large proportion of waste generated in-process is offcut fibre composite material, which has very limited options for recycling or re-use.

A waste audit across two sites identified other recyclable materials that could be diverted from landfill, such as cardboard and soft plastics.

The Project

The project will seek to reduce costs of waste disposal by finding alternative disposal methods for identified waste streams, including:​

  • co-processing of fibre composite waste​, and
  • recycling of cardboard and plastic film waste.

Objectives

  • Reduce waste to landfill​.
  • Maintain or reduce current costs.

Targets

  • Reduce waste to landfill by 50%​.
  • Maintain or reduce current waste disposal costs.
Image of worker trimming a fibre composite component

After a component is de-moulded, it is trimmed to create a clean edge. The project explored secondary uses and other opportunities to divert this waste from landfill.

Outcomes

What was implemented?

  • Introduced recycling program for cardboard, co-mingled, steel, aluminium and drums.​
  • Fortnightly kerbside pickup for co-mingled has begun for both sites​.
  • More reliable metal recycler engaged – this one even pays us!
  • Staff education program has begun​.
  • Collaborated with other businesses and conducted experiments to seek secondary uses for fibre composites.

Key issues

  • How to deal with ‘problem’ wastes, eg fibreglass offcuts, resins and MDF​ – MDF is a real issue and can’t be recycled​.
  • We looked at many options for fibreglass but mainly tried to reduce waste generation at the source, eg careful measurement of resin and glass matting.

Performance against targets

  • We reduced our waste to landfill by approximately 35% across the site.
  • We were able to maintain our current costs as the return from the metal recycler has offset additional costs of recycling.

Lessons Learnt

  • Waste management can be really challenging, all businesses have their own unique problems.​
  • It’s great that Tasmanian businesses are genuine in their efforts to do something about it.
  • Touring the recycling plant really opened my eyes to the amount of waste that we all generate, it’s actually quite mind blowing.
Image of resin being measured for fibre composite production

Reducing inputs through more accurate measurement of raw materials, reduced ‘problem’ wastes at the source.

Image of Darren Emmerton

Darren Emmerton
Production Manager

“Finding a solution for fibre composite waste would be ground-breaking and quite significant. I feel we have come very close.”

Business Resource Efficiency Program

The Business Resource Efficiency Program (BREP) was delivered by Business Action Learning Tasmania in partnership with the Tasmanian government.

It is a key action from Climate Action 21, the Tasmanian Government’s climate change action plan.

11 Tasmanian businesses participated in BREP, which included waste audits, tailored resource efficiency improvement strategies, an action learning program, and one-on-one mentoring.

  • Red Brick Road Ciderworks
  • Bridestowe Lavender Estate
  • Botanical Resources Australia
  • Penguin Composites
  • Direct Edge Manufacturing
  • Nichols Poultry
  • Jinglers Creek Vineyard
  • Drysdale North
  • pitt&sherry
  • CPT Engineering
  • ThinkBig Printing
Increasing resource efficiency provides business benefits and sustainability outcomes.

Get in on the action

Are you interested in learning more about action learning for resource efficiency?