Lost without REDcycle? Here are some alternatives
23 November 2022 at 5:33 pm
REDcycle may have dominated soft plastic recycling before its collapse, but there are alternatives.
With the collapse of the REDcycle soft plastic recycling program earlier this month, consumers are wondering where they can take their soft plastics instead.
The bad news is, there aren’t really any other large scale recycling programs for these products.
The best course of action remains reducing use of soft plastics instead.
That said, some smaller, local operators still have the capacity to recycle those tricky plastics.
In Victoria, Melanie Bramble runs a community collection hub for TerraCycle, a company that specialises in recycling hard-to-recycle plastics.
Driven by a desire to reduce her family’s footprint on the planet, Bramble began to collect plastic items for distribution to places that reuse or recycle them, including bread tags, which she provides to Aussie Bread Tags for Wheelchairs, and e-waste, which she takes to Officeworks for recycling.
She also collects brand-name products like Colgate, Gillette and Mecca on behalf of TerraCycle, which works with brands and retailers who fund the recycling process.
As for soft plastics, TerraCycle still runs two programs that can help with certain types of soft plastics: Glad recycling, which accepts all brands of cling wrap, snack, sandwich and freezer bags, and the Royal Canin and Open Farm pet food bag recycling.
Bramble says there is a place for recycling, provided it is part of the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ chain.
“Some items have a very low recycle value, meaning that once they have been used then recycled once, the next product they make is the final end product and will no longer be able to be recycled again into something else, so then it will end up in landfill,” she said.
“For the world to be sustainable, people’s mindset needs to change. Industries need to change. The government in partnership with business and industry must be held accountable.
“The only way change is going to happen is if the highest governing body puts strict legislation in place and enforces all businesses/industries to change.”
In some parts of New South Wales, another soft plastic recycling program operates independently of REDcycle.
Known as Curby and founded by CurbCycle, the programs operate in the Central Coast and City of Newcastle council areas and collect soft plastics through household recycling.
These programs have not been impacted by REDcycle’s closure and are continuing to collect and process soft plastics recovered through the program, a spokesperson said in a statement.
There are currently no plans to expand the program into other council areas “as we’ve aligned our expansion with new soft plastics processing infrastructure scheduled to come online in 2023,” the spokesperson said.
“We will continue to work with our partners and members to ensure the Curby Program operates successfully and within capacity.”
Ecobricks are another alternative to traditional soft plastic recycling. They’re more common in other parts of the world, but some places in Australia are busy making up ecobricks as a way of addressing the plastic crisis.
At its heart, ecobricking is sequestration. An ecobrick is a plastic bottle packed full of clean, dry, used plastic. When enough ecobricks are created, they can be fitted together to construct things like tables and chairs, or combined with earth building techniques to make things like outdoor play areas and garden walls.
The creation of ecobricks removes plastic from the rubbish cycle and avoids the degradation of plastic recycling processes. When kept out of heat and sunlight, the bricks can be reused again and again.
Those looking to get involved in ecobricking can get started by booking a training session to learn more.