The fire destroying SKM Recycling facility in Melbourne last year has paved the way Australian entrepreneur Priyanka Bakaya to open a new recycling facility in Victoria within two years.

Bakaya is the founder and chief executive of Renewlogy, a clean energy company which aims to keep plastic out of landfill by converting plastic waste into fuel.

The company has had the financial backing of major US investors including AOL founder and billionaire Steve Case, and venture capital firm Lightspeed Ventures, which has backed Silicon Valley companies including Snapchat.

Renewlogy is working with Melbourne venture capital firm Trimantium Capital to raise a $50 million fund to finance its global expansion.

The company already has a facility operating out of Salt Lake City in Utah, and will have another operational in Canada by next year.

Bakaya, who was speaking to Fairfax Media at last week’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India, says they want to work with a local player that provides waste services, to open a facility in Victoria by 2019.

“Renewlogy is currently exploring setting up one of its facilities with Resource Resolution, led by Ian Bertram, in Girgarre, Victoria,” she says.

“Resource Resolution is located at the former Heinz Factory site, and they currently accept off-spec food products from various manufacturers.

“The goal for the site is to recover the organics portion through a bio-digester that can send electricity back to the grid, and recover the plastics portion into fuels such as off-road diesel, using Renewlogy’s process.

“This would position the region as a sustainability hub and leader.”

She says while a new Australian plant has been on the cards for some time, the challenge has been getting government support and financing.

But the SKM fire demonstrated the dangers of stockpiling plastic, and while that facility is being rebuilt, there’s a gap in the market.

“About 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced globally each year, and only roughly 10 per cent gets recycled,” she says.

“We are now living in the plastic age and it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.”

“There are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, and we add a staggering 8 million tons of plastic waste to our oceans each year.”

She says plastic waste can sit in landfills for hundreds of years without decomposing. But with Renewlogy’s technology the company can convert every 10 tonnes of plastic to roughly 2500 gallons of fuel.

“It costs roughly $30 a barrel to produce diesel which can be sold for roughly $70 a barrel,” she says.

Bakaya completed her high school in Australia but left at university age to study at Stanford University, and later at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

She has been recognised with various entrepreneur awards including the Forbes 30 Under 30, Fortune 40 Under 40, and Ones to Watch.

She say while Australia has produced great start-ups, she thinks those that want to play on the global stage, often have more success by leaving.

“There’s less of a risk appetite in Australia,” she says.

“In the United States people have more of an attitude of ‘we can do the impossible’. They have the big entrepreneur schools like Stanford and MIT, where I went.”

Asked about Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation plan, she says while that will help build a stronger ecosystem in Australia, government only plays one part.

“There needs to be a cultural mindset of innovation,” she says.

She also notes that in places like Utah the government does much more to support start-ups both financially and emotionally.

“It has ranked number one for business friendliness in the US,” she says.

The writer travelled to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit as a guest of the US State Department.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.