RedCycle has collapsed, leaving millions of unrecycled plastic items stuck in warehouses

Karen Pham

Karen Pham

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RedCycle Facebook

Australia’s largest plastic bag recycling program RedCycle has collapsed after secretly stockpiling hundreds of millions of bags and other soft plastic items in warehouses.

The Melbourne-based company has been collecting soft plastics for months, dropped off in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets by customers wanting to see the plastic recycled rather than end up in landfills.

RedCycle has suspended its collection program after the stockpile was revealed by the Sydney Morning Herald. Woolworths has removed collection containers from stores and Coles was expected to follow.

In a statement, RedCycle said “several unforeseen challenges, exacerbated by the pandemic” had caused the backlog and consumers could be assured that the soft plastic would not be sent to a landfill.

“RedCycle has had to take the unwanted but necessary step of holding stock in warehouse storage facilities temporarily, as this material will not be able to be processed for at least six months.”

Since the program’s launch in 2011, RedCycle claims to have collected more than 5.4 billion pieces of plastic that “will never end up in landfills, on our beaches, or in our waterways”. While the processing issues are anticipated to last until mid-2023, more than 1 billion tonnes of plastic are kept in the warehouse.

In a Facebook post, Liz Kasell, CEO and founder of RedCycle, thanked supporters for their “outpouring of love and support” for the program since the crisis was revealed.

“We are working tirelessly on solutions to get RedCycle back up and running.

“We are collaborating with government, industry and business to design a resilient pathway forward so that Australians can continue to recycle soft plastics. We are committed to a solution.”

Meanwhile, Inside FMCG has reported that major food and grocery brands in Australia are supporting a new scheme to keep soft plastic packaging out of landfills and build a new recycling industry that can produce food-grade, recycled soft plastic packaging in the country.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS) have developed a project designed to close the loop for soft plastic packaging and produce food-grade packaging from recycled materials local FMCG companies need – but currently have to source overseas.

Karen Pham

Karen Pham

Karen Pham is a marketing and branding enthusiast with a major in legal English. Based in Ho Chi Minh City, she is a contributor to Viable.Earth.

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