This article first appeared in Convenience & Impulse Retailing, authored by Tom Oakley-Newell
The Soft Plastics Taskforce, comprised of major supermarkets, has announced its plans for the model of soft packaging recycling in Australia.
The taskforce, made up of ALDI, Coles, and Woolworths, has announced an initial in-store collection pilot expected to launch in late 2023, contingent on the ability to clear REDcycle’s existing stockpiles of soft plastics which Coles and Woolworths have been granted control of.
Currently it is not possible to recycle the volume of household soft plastics collected in a supermarket program using domestic infrastructure, so the Taskforce has plotted out the projected gradual increase in Australian soft plastic recycling capacity over the next year, as new operators launch, and existing processors expand.
“Restoring public trust in soft plastic recycling is paramount, and the Taskforce will reintroduce soft plastic collections when it can be confident that it will be properly recycled. We owe it to consumers to get this right.
“The best way to accelerate nationwide access to soft plastic recycling is through continued investment in recycling facilities to bring forward existing plans to expand domestic capacity,” said a spokesperson for the Taskforce.
The Taskforce supports the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS), currently being developed by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), as a model for a sustainable, long-term solution to divert more plastic packaging from landfill.
The NPRS outlines a new kerbside scheme to collect more household soft plastics and is based on a model which would see food and grocery manufacturers pay a levy to support the recycling of the soft plastics they create. It is currently being trialled in select areas.
Tanya Barden, CEO of the AFGC, said that there is a crucial opportunity now to rethink the model for soft plastics recycling in Australia.
“The NPRS is a whole-of-supply chain plan that makes soft plastic recycling easy for consumers with kerbside collection. It has also stimulated commitments to invest in new advanced recycling infrastructure here in Australia.
“Manufacturers, local councils, waste collectors and processors, advanced recyclers and plastics manufacturers are united in this plan for sustainable soft plastics recycling.”