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Soft Plastic Recycling Update


Soft plastic bag on green background


Soft plastic, an overview 

According to Clean Up Australia's most recent Litter Report, soft plastic pieces such as plastic bags, bread bags, cling film, confectionary wrappers and fresh and frozen produce bags, are the most common item found in litter. In addition to that, the amount of soft plastic collected has increased compared to the year before due to increased use by consumers and a lack of current facilities and programs to collect.  


To tackle our national soft plastics problem, The National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS) is currently being developed by the Australian Food and Grocery Council. This initiative aims to introduce a new kerbside collection model specifically designed for household soft plastics. However, in the meantime, we see initiatives led by the private sector to reduce the amount of soft plastic being sent to landfill.  


Soft Plastics Recycling Trials 

As of 7 February 2024, soft plastic recycling collections are being trialled in Victoria. This soft plastic recycling trial was developed by the Soft Plastics Taskforce members (Coles, Woolworths and Aldi) and will run in 12 participating supermarkets. Customers are encouraged to deposit their household soft plastics in the collection bins located at the front of these stores during the trial period.


Coles: Northcote, Ivanhoe, Brunswick, Moonee Ponds, Flemington

Woolworths: Balwyn, Box Hill, Burwood Brickworks, Carnegie North, Hawthorn East

ALDI: Prahran, St Kilda


Why a trial?

This trial will help the Soft Plastics Taskforce and industry to understand whether a new large scale soft plastics collection system could be successful and the ability of soft plastic recyclers to cope with demand levels. There are currently only a limited number of soft plastic recyclers in Australia, some of whom are still in the process of scaling up their operations and are testing their capacity.


This comes with many challenges such as understanding the resources required and the challenges they will face such as contamination. Thus, the trial is to start with 12 stores and to expand out in the future.  


To ensure transparency, each recycling partner will be required to provide data on the material they receive and the recycled material they create with it.


What’s being done with the plastics collected? 

The soft plastic collected will be delivered to recycling partners who will then sort, weigh and process the soft plastics into a variety of products, including an additive for making asphalt roads, a replacement for aggregate in concrete and a material for making shopping trolleys and baskets.



What can you drop off?

The best way to understand how to dispose of packaging material responsibly is to refer to the ARL (Australasian Recycling Label) on the packaging. You want to be looking out for soft plastic packaging with the ‘check locally’, ‘return to store’ or ‘drop off’ labels on the packaging. Learn more about what each label means here.


ARL Drop off icon

When you see a check locally sign, you should check with your local council or on arl.org.au which will tell you if there is a collection point near you. 


Please also ensure that only clean, soft plastics are placed into the bin. Other materials (e.g., paper shopping bags, hard plastic, nappies) may contaminate the collection and make it difficult for the soft plastics recyclers/processor to process the material. In addition, contaminated soft plastics may also result in some other material surrounding these items being sent to landfill. 


Where do I recycle my soft plastics?

There are two website which will locate your nearest soft plastic recycling location.


Tips on navigating the arl.org.au and recyclemate.com.au

These websites are designed to assist you with recycling correctly at home. However, if there are alternative disposal options, you can simply scroll on the page to find more disposal options!



Recycle mate tips


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