Scrunch and Recycle
|Rigid Plastic can't be scrunched while Soft Plastics can easily form a ball.|
Soft plastics means more than just plastic shopping bags - anything from bread bags to pasta packets and biscuit trays. These should never go in your home recycling bin, as they can't be processed though most kerbside recycling collections. They are among the most common contaminant items found in Australian bins.
It's easy to tell: if you can scrunch it - it's probably soft plastic, and best left out of the bin.
You can set up a system in the kitchen that's easy to follow and reminds you to collect the soft plastics you use. One suggestion is to put the plastics straight into your reusable shopping bag so they are ready to go to the shop* when you are.
Coles & Woolworths/Safeway Soft Plastic Recycling
This free program is made possible through the Red Group, which has worked with the major supermarkets, *Coles & Woolworths/Safeway, the Australian Packaging Covenant and many of Australia's largest food manufacturers who together cover the cost of collecting, transporting and processing the plastic. The program is an extended producer responsibility scheme. The plastic is made into furniture for schools and kindergartens among other things.
What You Can Recycle
- Plastic shopping bags
- Bread, rice and pasta bags
- Biscuit packets and trays
- Frozen food bags
- Confectionery (lollie) packets
- Newspaper wrap
- Bubble wrap
- Dry cleaning bags
- Old green (and other re-usable) bags
Then drop them into the REDcycle collection bin at selected Coles and Woolworths/Safeway stores (most metropolitan stores).
If there isn't a store near you, you can post your soft plastics to:
RED Group, Attn: Plastic packaging recycling
38 Chelmsford Street Williamstown North VIC 3016
Rigid plastics like soft drink and milk bottles and butter, margarine and ice cream tubs are all easily recycled through the kerbside system. On the other hand, soft (or ‘scrunchable') plastics cause significant problems at the recycling station for two reasons: first they contaminate the paper recycling stream; and second, they get caught in the conveyor belts and other machinery that sort the recycling. So equally important is to not wrap your rigid plastics in a bag - but rather use a bucket, box or another easy to transport container that you can take to the recycling bin.
Some Councils Do Recycle Plastic Bags
There are a few councils around Australia that collect plastic bags in their kerbside system. They are: Lismore and Ballina in NSW, Cambridge and Vincent in WA, and Moreland in VIC. If you live in one of these areas make sure you follow the council guidelines.