Home » Qenos enters voluntary administration: One of Australia’s biggest manufacturers goes bust putting 700 jobs on the line

Qenos enters voluntary administration: One of Australia’s biggest manufacturers goes bust putting 700 jobs on the line

Australia’s biggest plastics and chemical manufacturer has gone bust with some 700 jobs on the line. 

Qenos was plunged into voluntary administration on Wednesday, leaving the future of its manufacturing plants in Victoria and NSW up in the air.

Staff revealed they were advised of the latest development in several meetings. 

Qenos operates two facilities: one in Altona in Melbourne‘s west – which is Australia’s largest production centre for petrochemicals and plastics and employs 450 workers – and one in Botany in Sydney – where 250 workers are employed. 

The future of workers at the Qenos manufacturing plants in Victoria and NSW are on the line

The company's Botany facility is set to be closed, although it has not been operational since February 2023 due to the collapse of its cooling towers

The company’s Botany facility is set to be closed, although it has not been operational since February 2023 due to the collapse of its cooling towers

The company’s Botany facility is set to be closed, although it has not been operational since February 2023 due to the collapse of its cooling towers.

On its website, Qenos claims to be ‘the sole manufacturer of polyethylene and polymers within Australia.’

‘If you see or use plastic in your household items, it was probably made by us,’ it reads.

‘We directly contribute more than $1 billion a year to the Australian economy.’

Sky News business editor Ross Greenwood said that ‘Qenos is one of the key companies in Australia’. 

‘The one thing that is strategically important, I would think, are the pipes that carry your water and carry your sewage,’ he said.

Greenwood added: ‘Well, the core ingredient for that is either ethylene or polyethylene; the one company that makes that is Qenos.’

High gas prices in recent years, combined with the closure of Exxon’s Altona fuel refinery in 2021, are believed to be contributing factors to the company’s collapse.

Qenos was recently sold by its Chinese owner, China National Chemical, to property developer Logos.

A spokesman for industry minister Ed Husic said the government was ‘actively monitoring the situation’ and what it meant for workers and any potential impacts on supply chains. 

700 Qenos workers in Victoria and NSW face an uncertain future following the collapse of the company

 700 Qenos workers in Victoria and NSW face an uncertain future following the collapse of the company

Experts warned that the collapse of Qenos would make it impossible to create an end-to-end recyling industry for plastic in Australia.

The National Plastics Plan 2021 sets out a 70 per cent target of plastic packaging to be recycled by next year.

2GB broadcaster Mark Levy said the closure could upend the goal.

‘They can forget about it if Qenos shuts,’ Mr Levy said.

‘In 2022, Qenos launched a feasibility study with Cleanaway to break down 1000 tonnes a year of packaging into its chemical components then back to a resin for future use.

‘(That) is the same weight as two Sydney Harbour Bridges, that is a lot of recycled plastic.

‘That 100,000 tonnes of plastic will now end up in landfill.’