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A soft plastics recycling program used by supermarkets has been paused indefinitely

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REDcycle, an organisation that recycles soft plastics for Coles and Woolworths, has announced it will pause its collection program.
A soft plastics recycling program used by supermarkets has been paused indefinitely

REDcycle, an organisation that recycles soft plastics for Coles and Woolworths, has announced it will pause its collection program.

Soft plastics include things like plastic bags you get in the fruit and veg section, bread bags and bubble wrap. They cannot be recycled using normal recycle bins.

What is REDcycle

REDcycle collects the plastics to be processed at specialised facilities.

The plastics are then used to create a range of recycled products, including outdoor furniture, shopping trolleys, and additives for concrete and asphalt.

The organisation says it has saved 5.4 billion pieces of soft plastics from landfill since it began 11 years ago.

What’s gone wrong

REDcycle says its closure has been forced by disruptions to the two recycling companies it works with.

One partner, Close the Loop, has shut one of its facilities following a fire. REDcycle says the other partner, Replas, has experienced “downturns in market demand” related to the pandemic.

In a statement on its website, REDcycle says these factors have “put untenable pressure on the REDcycle business model”.

It says all the plastics it has collected that cannot be recycled are being kept in storage “at great personal expense to the organisation”. It claims none of this plastic will end up in landfill.

REDcycle says it wants to resume the program “as soon as possible” but could not confirm how long the pause would be.

What do you do now?

REDcycle is now encouraging consumers to put their soft plastics in their rubbish bin unless they live in an area with access to the “Curby” soft plastics recycling program.

“Please do not put it in your home kerbside recycling bin… as it is not recyclable in that system,” REDcycle says.

Government response

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek says the news is “concerning”.

Plibersek says the Government has “set aside” $60 million to address “this issue of hard-to-recycle plastics”.

“A little part of me dies every time I see a piece of soft plastic going into my bin and ending up in landfill,” Plibersek added.

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