With increasing consumer demand for improved recycling, the trial aims to find a way to collect, sort and process soft plastics that can be broadly adopted.
iQ Renew CEO Danial Gallagher said there is an opportunity in turning soft plastic from a waste to a resource. Soft plastics not only make up 20% of the volume of Australian household landfill bins, but are also frequently found incorrectly placed in recycling bins.
“Most Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) can’t separate soft plastic from other items in household recycling, so while soft plastic can be recycled, what we lack is a robust, scalable system to collect and process it using existing kerbside collection,” Mr Gallagher said.
“We’ve designed the trial so that at the front end, it will support householders to pre-sort their soft plastic and get it into a recycling stream, while behind the scenes, we’ll test using the sorted soft plastic as a resource in a range of different manufacturing processes,” he said.
Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez said Nestlé wanted to find sustainable paths to recycle packaging.
“While we are working to make all our packaging recyclable, we know that soft plastics is an area that needs greater focus and collaboration. We need to find ways to drive more recycling here,” Ms Martinez said.
“As Nestlé plans to reduce our virgin plastic use and increase the amount of food grade recycled plastic packaging we use, we need plastic to be collected. Given the low amount of soft plastic collected from consumers today, we hope this trial can unlock the significant potential for soft plastic packaging to become a resource.”
Ms Martinez said Nestlé also wanted to help people to recycle effectively.
“Australians are enthusiastic recyclers and want better recycling systems that take plastic packaging out of landfill. This trial will uncover how households understand soft plastics collection and answer critical questions about how it affects their in-home recycling behaviour. We have a vision for Australia to have a waste free future.”
The project will commence with a pilot of 2000 households, then plans to expand to over 100,000 households later in the year, processing around 750 tonnes of soft plastic that would otherwise be sent to landfill. Locations for the trial are currently under consideration.
The trial will be formally announced at the National Plastics Summit in Parliament House on Monday.