Coles, Woolworths responsible for 12,000 tonnes of unrecycled plastic

About 12,400 tonnes of flexible plastics from the suspended recycling program REDcycle could be put under control as two supermarket giants, Coles and Woolworths, offered to receive the bill.

REDcycle, Australia’s largest soft plastics recycling scheme, has suspended its activities in November 2022. After The Age revealed that it had been stockpiling plastic for years rather than recycling.

The investigation revealed thousands of tons of plastic stored in 32 storage locations in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. 5,200 tonnes of plastic stored across NSW.

The business has partnered with 2,000 supermarkets nationwide and has dedicated collection bins at Coles and Woolworths.

It claims to have collected approximately 5.4 billion pieces of plastic since it was founded in 2011.

Coles and Woolworths on Friday hope that taking responsibility for stockpiling will help keep soft plastics from ending up in landfills. Interim strategies are underway, such as storing materials until they can be properly processed for recycling.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said in a joint media release: to get it right.

“Coles and Woolworths have taken this step to give the public peace of mind that the soft plastics they strive to put into the REDcycle bins will not end up in landfills unnecessarily. .”

“We know this can take time, and we hope that REDcycle will help us achieve the best possible outcome for the environment and restore the community’s trust in our recycling system.”

Coles Chief Operations and Sustainability Officer Matt Swindells said Coles is “deeply disappointed” by its non-recycled stockpiles.

It aims to work with governments and industry to find viable solutions that help customers “do the good things they’ve done in the last decade by sorting out soft plastics and knowing that they can be recycled.” You can resume work.

REDcycle has not yet responded to this offer.

The proposal comes after the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a “cleanup order” to Coles and Woolworths on February 3, asking them to either dump the plastic in landfills, export it overseas, or There were three options to reprocess the plastic for future use. .

Tony Chappel, Chief Executive of the NSW EPA said:

REDcycle said the issue was caused by unforeseen issues, including a surge in the amount of plastic collected and the fact that recycling partners have stopped accepting collected items.

one such partner close the loopis a user of soft plastics whose factory was hit by a fire and had to temporarily shut down operations.

receipt of invoice

Coles and Woolworths have collectively invested over A$20 million in REDcycle over the past decade and are now expected to spend at least $3.5 million on stockpiling disposal.

The funds will come from the Soft Plastic Recycling Endowment Fund, where two supermarkets each provide initial contributions of millions of dollars.

Due to Australia’s limited capacity to recycle soft plastics, some of the plastic stored by REDcycle is expected to be sent to landfills, making it difficult for other countries to import contaminated plastics. You are unlikely to agree.

“To date, supermarkets have not been granted access to stockpiles,” said spokespeople for the two supermarkets.

“They need to assess whether any of their soft plastics have degraded to the point that they are unsuitable for reprocessing. Coles and Woolworths strive to recycle as much of the materials they are given.”

Government investment in plastic recycling schemes

federal government have swore To end plastic pollution by 2040, Invested $60 million to improve recycling of soft plastics and other hard-to-recycle commodities.

Only about 13% of plastic is recycled in the country each year.

New South Wales was the last state to ban single-use shopping bags, but many retailers have opted for thicker plastic bags rather than dealing with paper or cotton bags.

Community-based environmental program Cleanup Australia has said recycling must become a ‘last resort’ in tackling plastic waste and cannot be seen as a ‘magic bullet solution’. increase.

“The first thought process is how can we avoid this first? Before Considering recycling.” Cleanup website Said.