The suspension of the popular REDcycle soft plastics recycling program late in 2022 has caused a lot of angst amongst our community. We're all disappointed, sad and upset, and we're more worried than ever about the perilous state of our precious planet.
Governments and large corporates can do so much more, and consumer pressure may force them to act to cut single use plastics, invest into compostable alternatives and stimulate more investment into recycling technology and infrastructure.
What is happening to soft plastics now?
At present we are not aware of any recycling programs for soft plastics operating in Australia. We know that the Redcycle program was suspended because there was an oversupply of soft plastics vs companies who could make use of the recycled material. One of their customers was Replas, who make outdoor furniture like benches (pictured) out of recycled plastic.
REDcycle is currently working with stakeholders and the Government to find a solution and a new way of working going forwards. They conducted a community feedback survey which gave the general public a chance to contribute their thoughts and ideas for the future. The REDcycle team have been facilitating a series of promising meetings with a range of industry partners to ensure the ongoing success of REDcycle, and to continue their important work diverting billions of pieces of soft plastic from landfill.
We are hopeful of them finding an even better way to tackle the single use plastic problem in the future so please watch this space. In the meantime, you may choose to stockpile your soft plastics until a new recycling solution becomes available.
If you decide to place your soft plastics into your kerbside bin, please use the general waste bin which is destined for landfill. Placing your soft plastics into your kerbside recycling bin is 'wishcycling' and simply creates more work at the processing plant where employees have to sift out non recyclables by hand to prevent contamination of the recycling streams.
How can we avoid single use plastics?
The suspension of the Redcycle program is an opportunity for us all to reflect on our current practices and try to do better when it comes to avoiding single use plastic. There are a number of simple steps we can take to avoid foods and products packaged in single use plastic and find alternatives. Following are seven tips on how to replace them:
- Buy groceries and personal products at bulk stores using your own containers. Do not buy small single serve packs.
- Take a variety of your own shopping bags and produce sized bags for all fruit and veg shopping
- Put together an eat kit to keep in your car to include reusable cutlery, plates, a range of cups, bags and containers. This ensures you won't be caught short when out and about
- Source quick and easy recipes to make some of the foods you love and can only be found in single-use plastic
- Make your own personal products or seek out those in compostable packaging like the Viva la Body range which comes in cardboard.
- Replace single use kitchen wrapping with bees wax wrapsand containers,
- Use plates as lids and preserve fruit and veg in food storage systems like the Veggie Saver, rather than plastic.
How you can help restart recycling soft plastics
If you feel strongly about the suspension of the Redcyle program, there are a few actions you can take today to put pressure on the powers that be to act.
Find you local member here and tell them why they need to do better for our planet.
Write to Coles and Woolworths and tell them that you're really disappointed to see the withdrawal of the Redcycle bins and you want them to find an alternative program ASAP.
Let us know what steps you're taking in the comments below.
This brilliant article from Treading My Own Pathcreates some hope for a brighter future so please don't despair!