Nestlé's soft plastic recycling trial to begin on NSW Central Coast
Since soft plastics make up 30% of the plastic packaging used in Australia, food giant Nestlé wanted to be part of finding new approaches to boost recycling.
In March 2020, Nestlé and Australian recycler iQ Renew, announced the soft plastic recycling trial. Since then, it has had many approaches from the waste and recycling industries, local governments, packaging manufacturers and other companies making packaged goods wanting to know more, said Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez.
Now, Nestlé and iQ Renew’s soft plastic recycling trial is set to commence with 2000 households on the NSW Central Coast, with plans to extend it to around 140,000 homes.
The trial will see soft plastic collected through kerbside recycling and diverted from landfill. Participating households will collect their clean soft plastics in a purpose-made bright yellow ‘Curby’ bag, then, when the bag is full, tie it up, tag it and place it in their yellow recycling bin for pick up with their regular recycling collection.
Tags will identify the bags and help to improve the sorting process, ensuring they can be separated from other recyclables. The soft plastics will then be shredded and become a resource for use in other plastic products, chemical recycling and energy recovery.
iQ Renew CEO Danial Gallagher said that the trial aimed to test how collecting and processing soft plastics can be scaled up. “The trial will help answer a few questions: How will the community adopt this? Can we keep loose plastics out of other recyclables? Will the bags survive the truck? Can we use regular shopping bags?” Gallagher said.
“We’ve been testing ways to separate and recover soft plastic from other items in household recycling, which is challenging for sorting facilities. This trial will allow us to test that at larger scale, with the hope of bringing much needed recycling innovation to all Australians,” he said.
Gallagher said that as the trial rolled out, it is important that people not participating in the trial continue to use return to store programs for their soft plastics.
Martinez said, “We already know Australians want better access to recycling for their soft plastics. Seeing this enthusiasm shared by so many is encouraging, as collective action by those with a shared vision for a waste-free future will be critical to solving this complex challenge at scale.”
Central Coast Council’s Director Roads Transport and Drainage Boris Bolgoff said the council is excited to be piloting new ways to recover soft plastics, using existing services and facilities at no additional cost.
“Right now, more than half of Central Coast residents’ household waste is sent to landfill, with soft plastics being common due to difficulties in separating it from other types of waste and recyclables and limited markets for the product,” Bolgoff said.
“Soft plastics not only pollute our land but they also cause significant damage to our environment and marine life — which is something our residents value immensely.”
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