The collapse of REDcycle has been an important reminder that the collection of packaging is only one step in the recycling process. Reliable, long-term soft plastics recycling programs are not able to succeed without sufficient recycling infrastructure and viable end markets for the recycled material.
Industry funded programs that encourage Extended Producer Responsibility are an effective method for developing long-term, reliable recycling. Producers and manufacturers have an incentive to redesign packaging so it is more recyclable and less wasteful to begin with. Producer responsibility for recycling of waste also promotes stronger end-markets and more use of recycled materials. Additionally, it means that the ongoing costs of these programs is covered by the companies responsible for creating the waste, rather than consumers and ratepayers.
You may be aware that the major supermarkets Coles, Woolworth and Aldi have formed a Soft Plastics Taskforce. This is promising as the major retailers have a large influence over the use of recycled materials and promoting stronger end-markets. The Taskforce report that in-store collection trials are planned to begin in 2024.