Unpacking our food waste depackaging technology

Our Services

March 21, 2019


Expired, damaged or mislabelled food products were previously destined for landfill because extracting the organic waste from the packaging was too difficult or inefficient. Cleanaway’s new depackaging unit allows us to take large volumes of food or liquid packaged in aluminium, plastic, liquid paperboard or cardboard and separate the organic material to be recycled.

For food manufacturers and supermarkets where food waste is inevitable and often in bulk, the depackaging function is a leap forward for reducing waste to landfill and achieving sustainability goals.

What can the depackaging unit process?

Cleanaway’s depackaging unit located in Dandenong, Victoria is capable of processing up to 10 tonnes of packaged food waste every hour with remarkable efficiency – up to 99% of materials are recovered in the process.

The depackaging unit can separate a range of packaging and containers from their contents including:

  • Tin cans and trays
  • Plastic bottles and containers
  • Blister packs
  • Sachets and pouches
  • Paper bags
  • Tetra packs
  • Polymer bags
  • Cardboard boxes and containers
  • Steel and plastic drums

*Glass cannot be processed through the unit.

This includes everyday packaged liquid and solid food waste such as:

  • Bakery items
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Pet food
  • Meat, poultry and fish
  • Beverages
  • Pasta, cereals and grains
  • Tea and coffee
  • Confectionary, biscuits and chips


How the depackaging unit works

Packaged materials are loaded into a separation chamber where a variety of durable and adjustable paddles open up the packaging. These paddles cause a squeezing effect which separates packaging from its contents without damage to the packaging.

The recovered food and liquids are sent to our South East Organics Facility (SEOF) to be repurposed into nutrient-rich compost which will be used on broadacre farms and crops, creating a closed loop solution for food waste. The packaging material is taken to South East Melbourne Transfer Station to be recovered for recycling where possible.

Our food and organics recovery services

Recycling organic waste creates a closed loop for businesses looking to deliver on the triple bottom line of sustainability – social, economic and environmental. We work with our customers to not only dispose of food waste safely and efficiently, but also maximise sustainability.

Cleanaway offers comprehensive food waste management and recovery solutions to a variety of industries such as:

  • Supermarkets
  • Hotels, restaurants and cafes
  • Events and community activities
  • Food processing industries

We also offer a fully certified secure product destruction service, giving you peace of mind that sensitive or branded food products are disposed of effectively and responsibly.

Read more about how we work with our customers to reduce waste in the food and beverage industry.

Investing in Australia’s resource recovery infrastructure

Cleanaway’s investment in the depackaging unit as part of our recent South East Organics facility development is an important part of our Footprint 2025 strategy – a roadmap to ensure Australia has the right infrastructure in place to support communities to manage their waste while maximising resource recovery.

Read more about our state-of-the-art facilities opened recently and in previous years.

Contact us to find out how we make a sustainable future possible through our partnerships with government, industry and the community.