Industry steps up on soft plastics recycling

The Australian Government welcomes the announcement today by Woolworths and Coles of their offer to take joint responsibility for the stockpiles of soft plastics that have accumulated as a result of the temporary suspension of REDcycle.

This is a positive example of retailers taking responsibility for the lifecycle of products that they have sold, and shows that the Government’s Soft Plastics Taskforce is making progress. 
Woolworths and Coles are taking responsibility for the stockpiles that exist. More work is needed before recycling collection for soft plastics can start again. 

REDcycle collapsed in November 2022. At the time it was Australia's largest soft plastic collection program, however it faced a series of processing and recycling issues. This was compounded by a fire shutting down their largest recycling facility. 

For most Australians, REDcycle collection points at Coles and Woolworths were the only way to return soft plastics for recycling. Most Australians currently don’t have an alternative option. 
Growing Australia’s recycling and circular economy infrastructure is a priority for the Government. 

REDcycle’s collapse highlighted the importance of having reliable and scalable processing and recycling facilities for materials like soft plastics. 

The Government has turbocharged the Recycling Modernisation Fund, budgeting an additional $60 million in October for hard to recycle plastics like soft plastics. 

Under the Recycling Modernisation Fund, 48 additional plastic recycling facilities have been funded, and 11 of these have already been delivered. 

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek: 

“Australians went to great effort to sort and take their plastics back to supermarkets to ensure they were recycled by REDcycle. I am determined to ensure that this effort was not in vain, and that they can be confident their plastics won’t go to landfill.  

“Since the collapse of REDcycle thousands of people have contacted me, devastated to see their red bins fill up with soft plastics – knowing they are destined for landfill.  

“Today’s announcement from Woolworths and Coles to responsibly manage the stockpiles is a big step forward. It will mean a lot to all the Australians who took the time to return their plastics for recycling – their efforts have not gone to waste. 

“This is the kind of positive action and leadership I hoped to see from the supermarkets when I brought them together through the Soft Plastics Taskforce. I thank them for their efforts.

“The Soft Plastics Taskforce is due to release a public roadmap next week that will provide information about the steps to reinstate collection systems around the country. Today’s announcement is a really positive first step.”