Soft Plastics Waste

Soft or flexible plastics are any plastics that can be easily scrunched into a ball or broken when crushed by hand and includes bread, pasta, chip and lollie packets, biscuit packs and trays and old 'green bags'.

The Problem

The petroleum used to make the 3.9 billion plastic bags that Australians use each year could power a car to drive around the Earth's equator 112,000 times!

  • Littered plastic bags cause serious damage to wildlife, livestock and natural habitats.
  • Worryingly, over one in four (28%) of Australians think that plastic bags can go into household recycling bins. More than one in two people (52%) incorrectly believe that biscuit packets and trays can also go in.
  • Plastic bags get caught in the sorting machinery at recycling centres causing breakdowns and delays and increasing the cost of recycling.

The Revolution

Between December 2012 and June 2013, 20.5 million items or 82 tonnes of soft plastic was recycled through the REDcycle program.

  • While most supermarkets have been collecting single-use HDPE plastic bags for recycling for a number of years, in late 2012 the REDcycle Program created a revolution in soft plastics recycling, allowing householders to recycle a wider range of soft plastics by returning them to more than 480 drop-off points at Coles supermarkets.
  • The plastic packaging is processed in Australia and sent to local manufacturer and program partner, Replas, which converts it into recycled plastic products, such as outdoor furniture and signage, for schools and communities.
  • The supply of single-use HDPE plastic bags have been banned in retail outlets in South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, with Tasmania to follow suit from November 2013.

Join the Revolution!

soft plastics being recycled at Coles


    • Collect your soft plastics for recycling and take them to the REDcycle collection bin at a participating Coles stores. Get in the habit of putting them straight into a reusable shopping bag, and visit the REDcycle website to find your closest collection bin.
    • Many other supermarkets have recycling bins for single-use plastic shopping bags. Visit RecyclingNearYou to find a location in your area.
    • Of course, the best environmental option is to reduce your use of plastic bags. Get in the habit of taking long-life reusable bags when you go shopping.

You can download the full Recycling Revolution Report below.