Soft plastics and packaging waste

We can all make a difference with a few simple switches.

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Quick overview

  • Soft plastics, including plastic bags and plastic wrappers, are not recyclable in the yellow bin.
  • Please put soft plastics in your general waste bin. We can't collect soft plastics on behalf of residents.
  • Soft Plastics Taskforce report that supermarket collection trials will begin in early 2024. 

What are the industry challenges with soft plastics?

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.  

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.  

 

What is Council doing to reduce soft plastic waste going to landfill?

  • We are continuing to investigate opportunities to support our community avoid waste and improve reuse and recycling as we transition to a circular economy.
  • We are advocating on behalf of our community for State Government to invest in appropriate recycling infrastructure and systems that keep resources circulating in the community, including soft plastic materials.
  • We are communicating with other councils and industry partners about this challenge. Many councils are currently looking for long-term solutions. Councils currently providing a collection point are only able to accept material from residents within their own municipality due to safe storage capacity limits of soft plastics. 
  • We will keep our community up-to-date with any changes to soft plastics recycling. 

Council has contacted and visited Advanced Plastic Recycling (APR), the main soft plastic processor in Victoria which can accept and process soft plastics in Dandenong South. There is potential room available for Glen Eira’s soft plastics, however, the main challenge remains the lack of a viable soft plastics collection points in Glen Eira as we do not have a transfer station. 

We are continuing to research viable soft plastic collection service options capable of accommodating Glen Eira’s needs. 

Reducing waste from the start

The disruption to soft plastics recycling has also been an important reminder about reducing the amount of disposable, single-use packaging made and used in our community.

Reducing waste from the start is a key part of moving to a circular economy and away from the current ‘take-make-waste’ way of doing things where materials are made into products we eventually throw away as waste.

Council recently endorsed the first Glen Eira Circular Economy Plan 2022-2026, which sets out how we’ll lead by example to manage resources more sustainably, support our community and advocate for broader change.

What can you do to reduce waste and manage soft plastics?

There are small actions you can take that make a big difference to household waste.

  • Avoid — try to avoid packaging by using reusables or choosing unpackaged options. Check out your local fruit and vegetable store, farmers markets, delis and bulk food stores for unpackaged items and refill stations. There are many stores in Glen Eira that are happy for customers to bring and use their own clean containers.
  • Reduce and recycle — if you can't avoid packaging, look for alternatives with less wrapping and recyclable options (eg. aluminium, glass, tin, cardboard and hard plastic containers). Check what items can go in your yellow and green bins and keep this in mind.
  • Ask for change — have your say and advocate for sustainable changes. Let brands and companies know if you would like to see their packaging change. For example, you may like to see less packaging, more recycled and recyclable materials or reusable, refillable options.

Try these sustainable swaps

Instead of this

Try this

Plastic produce bags

  • Bring your own reusable fruit and vegetable bags to the shops.
  • Keep reusable produce bags with your shopping bags.
  • If you do forget your produce bags, keep fruit and vegetables loose in your basket and pack directly into your shopping bags — or use a paper mushroom bag.

Cling wrap

  • Put leftover food in containers.
  • Cover a plate of food with an upside-down plate or bowl.
  • Reusable food coverings (eg. silicone covers, beeswax wraps).
  • Use aluminium foil. Reusable is the best option but alfoil is a better disposable alternative to cling wrap because it can be recycled in the yellow bin (scrunch into a ball).

Plastic snack bags or sandwich bags

  • Reusable food pouches.
  • Small containers or sandwich containers.
  • Reusable sandwich wraps.
  • Paper lunch bags and sandwich bags (small paper bags can go in the green bin).

Food and produce in plastic wrapping

  • Choose unwrapped, loose produce where possible.
  • Check out your local fruit and vegetable store, farmers markets and bulk food stores for loose produce and refill stations.
  • Ask if you can use your own container for deli items.
  • Look for recyclable packaging options (eg. cardboard, aluminium, glass or tin).
  • Avoid individually wrapped or snack size packages by getting a regular pack and portioning into smaller reusable pouches or containers.

What should you do with soft plastics?

We understand that it's difficult to avoid all soft plastics and sometimes there are limited accessible alternatives. Thanks for doing your best to reduce waste wherever you can. For the soft plastics you do end up with:

  • Please put soft plastics in your general waste bin for disposal.
  • Please do not put soft plastics in the recycling bin. Soft plastics, plastic bags and wrappers are not recyclable in the yellow recycling bin and can get caught in recycling machinery.

We will keep you updated with any changes to soft plastics recycling.

 

FAQs

Can Council collect my soft plastics?

It's very important to us to support our community to reduce waste and we are looking into possible solutions for Glen Eira as we do not have a waste transfer station where we can collect and hold soft plastics.

We are not currently accepting soft plastics and they should be disposed of in your general waste bin.

What are soft plastics?

Soft plastics are 'scrunchable' plastic wrappers or films, anything made of plastic that can be scrunched into a ball. Examples of soft plastics are plastic bags, bread bags, cling film, confectionary wrappers and fresh and frozen produce bags. 

Can I put my recycling in a plastic bag and then in the yellow bin?

No, plastic bags should never be put into the yellow bin.

Please put your recyclables loose into the bin, not bagged.