Do you know your soft plastics? With all the different types of packaging for everyday items, many people find it confusing to know which kinds of plastics are recyclable or what the best way is to dispose of soft plastics.
In western Sydney, councils unanimously report that the item most commonly misplaced into the yellow recycling bin is soft plastics: items such as bread bags, foil-like chips packet, chocolate wrappers and veggie bags. Soft plastics are recycled through a different stream to other recyclables. They are not currently part of the recycling service that is provided by councils and can't be processed with other recyclables that go in the yellow recycling bin.
For recycling to be processed effectively, it is important to understand what can and cannot go into your bins, before you put them out each week. Unfortunately, many people place items that they think might be recyclable into the yellow bin, hoping that it will be okay, or sorted at the other end.
When soft plastics are mixed with other recyclables in the yellow bin, it creates a serious problem for the recovery of those resources. Soft plastics can get caught up in sorting facility machinery, causing it to seize up and stop working and potentially placing processing staff in danger.
Even placing other recyclables in a plastic bag and putting that into the yellow bin can mean that those recyclables do not make it through processing, but have to be manually removed and redirected to landfill. In NSW, the amount of recyclable material that has to be rediverted to landfill is an average of 10 per cent.
To help councils reduce contamination of recycling, WSROC has developed a new campaign to help residents recognise their soft plastics and sort them out properly. The Love Recycling? campaign identifies more than 20 different types of soft plastic, including everyday packaging and wrappers. Featuring people and places in western Sydney, Love Recycling? focuses on helpful information, including:
- Know your soft plastics
- What is the scrunch test?
- Understanding the Australian Recycling Label (ARL)
- Which bin to put soft plastics in - not the yellow bin!
- How to recycle soft plastics
At present, the only way to recycle soft plastics is to bundle them up and take them to your local REDcycle drop-off point. These are located at most Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, at the front of the store.
Love Recycling is a NSW Environment Protection Authority, Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, funded from the waste levy.