- Sustainability advocates say REDcycle’s pause operations should be a warning to reduce reliance on soft plastics.
- Only a small proportion of the soft plastics used in Australia were recycled through the scheme.
- Plastic Free July founder says the use and regulation of plastic production is required.
Sustainability advocates say this should be a wake-up call for more meaningful action to tackle plastic waste in Australia.
REDcycle gave supermarkets a ‘free pass’, it is claimed
Lindsay Miles, a waste educator, told SBS News that REDcycle had been a “free pass” to supermarkets that acted as collection points for the recycler.
Sustainability advocates say consumers should have better options when it comes to packaging. Font: Getty / jacobs stock photography ltd
“They used it to say, ‘look, we’re doing something,’” he said.
“Instead of looking at their packaging and their systems and trying to reduce their plastic use or change the way they do things, they shift the burden to us and make it our problem,” said Ms Miles.
The Waste Hierarchy shows the different waste management options ordered by which is the best for the planet.
Reducing waste by avoiding using something and reusing items predates recycling in what is known as the waste hierarchy.
“As a society, we’re not buying single-use plastic because we love it, we’re buying it because it’s all drowning in it,” he wrote in a blog post.
Call to regulate plastic production
Plastic Free July founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz said it was cheaper for companies to create new plastic and there was a lack of regulation to stop them.
Plastic Free July Founder and Executive Director of the Plastic Free Foundation, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz. Font: supplied / tashi hall
“Plastic producers and manufacturers and brand owners can use virgin materials [newly produced] plastics because they are cheaper and easier than using recycled content,” he said.
“We need to have legislation that requires brand owners to use recycled content and industry to be responsible for packaging for the life of that item, just as we do in container deposit schemes.”
“Selling cleaning products as concentrates where you add water at home is another good way to reduce the overall amount of packaging,” he said.
What is the future of soft plastics?
In that same period, the goal is for 100 percent of packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable and for packaging to be comprised of an average of 50 percent recycled content.