The box making magnate is coming off a record financial result for Visy and Pratt Industries, and says it is the right time to keep investing in manufacturing.
The box making magnate is coming off a record financial result for Visy and Pratt Industries, and says it is the right time to keep investing in manufacturing.

Pratt’s $2bn green jobs bonanza

Billionaire Anthony Pratt will spend $2bn expanding his Visy box-making and recycling business in Australia, which he says will create thousands of new green manufacturing jobs.

Mr Pratt's pledge adds to the $1bn deal he clinched late last ­year to purchase the Australasian assets of glassmaker Owens-Illinois, which gives Visy a 90 per cent share of the beer bottle manufacturing market.

Visy will spend the $2bn over the next 10 years, with the manufacturing magnate revealing that $380m of the spending has been brought forward over the next 18 months because of the ­federal government's accelerated depreciation policy

"The pledged investment will be spent increasing the recycled content of glass bottles from 30 per cent to 70 per cent, reducing landfills by building another clean energy plant in Victoria that runs on paper mill rejects," Mr Pratt said while announcing the new spending initiative alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Penrith in Sydney's western suburbs on Friday.

Visy will also make its Brisbane paper mill more environmentally friendly, and will better use waste paper that was previously going to landfill in Victoria.

The company will also double the capacity of its 100 per cent ­recycled plastics factory in NSW and will move to introduce new programs to reduce water use at Visy's recycling paper mills by as much as 40 per cent.

"These initiatives will not only reduce landfills but also increase the recycled content of our customers' packaging (that is) re-manufactured right here in Australia," Mr Pratt said.

"They will create thousands of new green-collar manufacturing jobs and take our total investment value in Australia to $11bn.

The Prime Minister said Mr Pratt and Visy had given the nation "a shot in the arm when it comes to Australia's economic comeback from COVID-19".

"It backs in the jobs, it backs in the technology, it backs in the investment, it backs in Australia," Mr Morrison said.

Mr Pratt's pledge also came only four years after he made a similar $2bn commitment with then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull at Visy's giant paper mill at Tumut in regional NSW.

The billionaire also made a similar pledge in the US in an appearance with former president Donald Trump. His Pratt Industries has since opened more paper mills and factories across the rustbelt states in the US, and has further expansion plans.

Mr Pratt told The Australian after the Owens-Illinois deal that Visy in Australia would outlay another $500m over the next 10 years to increase the recycled components of the bottles and make them considerably lighter to save on transportation costs.

He would also quickly upgrade the management processes and technology used at O-I's seven factories around Australia.

The deal has added a considerable amount to Visy's bottom line, with the Australian businesses and Pratt Industries in the US achieving a record profit and revenue result last year.

Visy had been able to keep its factories open without major disruption, with every employee's temperature checked daily. The pandemic has also been good for business, with home deliveries of food and other goods - all packaged in cardboard boxes - surging in Australia and the US.

Originally published as Pratt's $2bn green jobs bonanza