Soft plastics can be defined as a plastic that can be scrunched into a ball or you can easily push your finger through the plastic. For example, plastic shopping bags, glad wrap, cling wrap, bubble wrap, plastic wrap, courier satchels, frozen food bags, chips bags and chocolate packets.
Soft plastics cannot be placed in the kerbside recycling bin as they will get caught up in the recycling machinery and impact the recycling process. There are two specific recycling streams that can be used to recycle soft plastics.
1. Community Recycling Centre
2. REDcycle collection points
How to Recycle your Soft Plastics
The following steps should be taken when recycling soft plastics through REDcycle:
1. Check the label – if the ARL says ‘Return to Store’ or ‘Store Drop Off’, that means it can be recycled through REDcycle bins
2. Check the location – the nearest REDcycle location can be found on the REDcycle website
3. Make sure your plastics are empty and dry
4. Collect your soft plastics at home. When the bag is full, drop it off at a REDcycle bin next time you are at the supermarket.
Source: Planet Ark 2021
Soft plastics that are clear, can be dropped off at the Community Recycling Centre for free recycling, including clear plastic bags, clear produce bags, clear pallet wrap, clear bubble wrap and cling wrap and zip lock bags.
Soft plastics are collected by The Flagstaff Group and recycled into new plastic products.
A range of soft plastics can be taken to REDcycle collection points located at local supermarkets, including;
- Biscuit and confectionary packets
- Fresh fruit and vegetable bags
- Rice and pasta packets and frozen food bags
- Newspaper and magazine wrap
- Unwanted/broken reusable shopping bags (e.g. "Green" bags)
- Single-use plastic shopping bags
For more information on what can be recycled, check out the REDcycle website.
Redcycle Poster(PDF, 2MB)
Local collection points in the Southern Highlands are:
Look for the special recycling bins at the front of the store
Soft plastics collected through REDcycle are processed and sent to Replas, who recycled soft plastics into a range of outdoor products.
A number of different types of plastics are available to be purchased, however not all are as environmentally friendly as others.
Compostable plastic is made from organic matter, such as a natural plant starch. To break down, they require specific conditions, such as oxygen and microbes to break down the materials to a nutrient-rich compost. This form of ‘plastic’ does not produce any toxic material.
To ensure plastics meet the Australian compostable standard, look for two labels.
1. Home Compostable AS 5810 (ABAX 9999) - item can be placed in home compost bin
2. Compostable AS 4736 (ABAX 9999) - item cannot be placed in home compost bin, only industrial composting
Biodegradable plastic, is a type of plastic made from oil and chemicals. ‘Biodegradable’ does not mean it is compostable, but refers to the material’s ability to decompose or break down by living organisms. Biodegradable labelling does not provide a timeline or conditions for decomposition and products will often break down into micro-plastics. This type of plastic cannot be composted and should be disposed of in the general waste bin (red lid).