Until today, you could return your soft plastics to supermarkets Coles and Woolworths, where it was collected by REDcycle and distributed to specialist recyclers, who turned it into various recycled plastic products. While we are waiting for this suspension to be sorted, let's learn about how to identify soft plastics - and why they can't go in your recycle bin.
If you can scrunch (squish) a piece of plastic in your hand easily, then it’s soft plastic. Because it jams recycling machinery, you can’t put soft plastics in most council recycle bins across Australia and it has to be dealt with separately.
Take a packet of commercial biscuits or lamingtons as an example. The outside scrunches easily, so is ‘soft plastic’. The inside tray doesn’t easily squish scrunch in your hand so it is rigid plastic and goes in your council recycle bin.
Soft packaging surrounds many many foods on supermarket shelves and most of these can be sent for recycling. Given that REDcycle has collected billions of pieces of soft plastics since it began in 2011, you can imagine how big the mound of plastic packets and bags that would otherwise be in landfill, if it wasn’t for their work over the past 11 years.
You should always avoid packaging of any kind if you can, but as that is easier said than done, try to buy products without packaging or packaging that can be reused.