A building that’s had many different lives gets a sustainable makeover! These days, it’s home to a live classical music venue, bar and coworking space.
Address: 2/68 Weerong Rd, Drouin VIC 3818
Environmental upgrade: 98.8KW and a 34.8KW solar system, plus two 25kW electric vehicle charging stations
Key drivers: Create a carbon neutral manufacturing process and provide electric car charging facilities
How does a business that recycles waste manage their huge energy requirements in an environmentally-friendly way?
Plasgain is one of the first companies in Australia to recycle plastic packaging into urban residential development products. They take plastic from recycling centres in Australia to create products such as their patented underground cable cover, Plasslab™, a product that was previously imported from overseas. Plasgain produce an ethically sound product in regional Australia, and are now taking steps to make the production process even greener.
“We have two lines currently running 24 hours, five days a week, making these products out of recycled milk bottles and waste plastic,” says Plasgain Director Darren Williames.
The process is energy intensive. Plastics are heated to melt and form the products, and then rapidly cooled to solidify them back into the required shape. They then laser etch text and other details into the surface.
Plasgain recently installed solar power on the roof so that the whole process is as sustainable as possible, without costing the business anything out of pocket.
“We’re solving other people’s recycling and land fill problems as well as our own, and to be as close to carbon neutral as possible is core to what we’re trying to do,” says Darren.
Not only that, Plasgain are looking to the future by installing electric vehicle charging stations on site. They hope to have a fleet of electric utes on the road as soon as they come available. Whether a few months or a few years down the track, Darren knows that he’ll have staff and customers that will require a vehicle charge at some point.
“We want to encourage the environmentally positive and ethical side of our business. What better way than to have electric vehicle charging stations?” says Darren.
Plasgain isn’t the only company benefitting from these upgrades. The same property owner has also installed solar at another building which is currently tenanted by Darcan Engineering.
By installing upgrades to this site, their tenant benefits by saving on their energy bill, while the owner improves the value of the existing building.
Plasgain worked with UCS Group to design the solar systems systems for each site. They then worked with Sustainable Australia Fund (SAF) and Baw Baw Shire Council to fund the systems using an Environmental Upgrade Agreement.
“UCS Group is excited to be partnering with SAF on this combined solar/EV charging solution for a regional Victorian business that focuses on making environmentally-conscious products, while creating Aussie jobs,” said UCS Group CEO, Stephen Ellich. “Our sustainable solutions team developed this packaged solution to save Plasgain money from day one, while spending no capex!”
The benefit of using this type of finance meant that Darren could afford to undertake the works with no out of pocket costs.
“It makes things like this viable,” says Darren. “There’s no burden to the tenant, no burden to us as a landlord, it’s a win-win. I think the payback was 10 years, and then after that point it’s obviously some large savings to everybody.”
Mayor of Baw Baw Shire, Councillor Danny Goss said the Environmental Upgrade Agreement was a smart way for local businesses to make energy-efficient improvements. “The Environmental Upgrade Agreement provides benefits to property owners, tenants and local industries. It’s great to hear the positive impact that this program has made over the past two years.”
The two buildings have a 98.8KW and a 34.8KW solar system installed, as well as two 25kW electric vehicle charging stations. The upgrades are expected to save the businesses over $33,900 per year, and reduce carbon emissions by over 170 tonnes of Co2-e. That’s the equivalent of taking 36 cars off the road!
The building upgrades are aligned with the business’ goal and vision to operate as environmentally friendly as possible, while delivering savings.
“It’s exciting to know that the machines are running throughout the day with no power costs,” says Darren.
The business is now looking towards other products they can manufacture, such as a light pole made from the waste plastic no one wants, such as chip packets.
“The aim of the business is to develop more products that will use up waste plastics and create employment at the same time,” says Darren. “We’ve got a list of maybe another 20 or 30 products that we can bring on stream that are the same sort of process.”
“As a landlord, we’re happy to support our tenants to come up with ways to not only be more environmentally friendly, but also save costs.”
– Monique Williames, Landlord