Nestlé and iQ Renew trial soft plastics recycling solution

Nestlé and Australian recycler iQ Renew have embarked on a kerbside recycling trial of soft plastics.

The pair first announced they would team up to trial a solution to the growing amount of soft plastics, which currently make up 30% of plastic packaging in Australia, at the National Plastics Summit in March.

Today the companies announced they had begun a trial on the NSW Central Coast involving 2,000 households who will collect clean soft plastics in a ‘Curby’ bag that can be collected with their regular recycling collection. These can currently only be recycled through speciality programs such as REDcycle, and often end up in landfill when they mistakenly placed in household recycling bins.  

Using a simple identification system aimed for ease of sorting, the trial will see plastics from the Curby bags shredded and reused, either repurposed in other plastics or in chemical recycling and energy recovery. It’s hoped the trial will soon be extended to 140,000 homes.

Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez said the company were committed to reducing the amount of soft plastics, currently 30 per cent of plastic packaging in Australia, which ends up in landfill.

“While Nestlé wants to reduce its use of virgin plastics and increase our use of recycled packaging, this won’t happen without robust collection, sorting and processing systems. Experience in Australia and round the world shows that people are more likely to recycle when it’s easy to access, and that kerbside is most successful,” Ms Martinez said.

Since announcing the trial in March, Ms Martinez said Nestlé has had many requests from waste and recycling industries, local governments, packaging manufacturers and related companies hoping to find out more, showing there was a broad demand for a solution to the issue.

Central Coast Council’s Director Roads, Transport and Drainage, Boris Bolgoff, said presently more than half of the area’s household waste was sent to landfill, and current sorting systems made it difficult to separate soft plastics from other recyclables and the council was keen to collaborate on solutions.

iQ Renew CEO Danial Gallagher said that the trial would provide critical insights into the capabilities of collecting and sorting of soft plastics, as well as the community’s role.

“We’ve been testing ways to separate and recover soft plastic from other items in household recycling, which is challenging for sorting facilities. This trial will allow us to test that at larger scale, with the hope of bringing much needed recycling innovation to all Australians,” he said.

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