questions about materials
PLEASE NOTE: As per recent media awareness, REDcycle has temporarily paused its soft plastics collection program from 9 November 2022.
Please dispose of your soft plastics in landfill, as there will be no recovery from Coles and Woolworths stores at this time.
REDcycle and our partners are committed to having the program back up and running as soon as possible.
Check out What to REDcycle for a comprehensive list of all items that can be recycled via the REDcycle Program.
Absolutely. We accept other stores’ carrier bags and all forms of soft plastic packaging from all brands.
Yes, the thin foil-like plastic sleeves and packets that some biscuits, chocolate bars, crackers and chips come in are fine to be recycled via REDcycle.
No, when it comes to biscuit packaging, it’s only the soft plastic wrapper that we can accept for recycling. The biscuit trays are classified as rigid plastic and should be disposed of in your council’s kerbside collection. As this varies between councils, please check with your council.
Sure, we love bubble wrap. If you have large pieces of bubble wrap, please cut them into A3 size. Large sheets are too bulky to be placed in the bins.
More and more coffee manufacturers are becoming compliant with their packaging, making more such packages REDcycle suitable. We would always advise for people to check if there’s an ARL symbol (see https://recyclingnearyou.com.au/arl/ for more information about the ARL) suggesting that the packaging definitely cannot be REDcycled. To confirm, if there IS an ARL, it means the packaging HAS been assessed, and will clearly state either yes, it can be REDcycled, or no, it can’t be. If there’s NO ARL, then assume the packaging hasn’t been assessed and therefore cannot be REDcycled.
No, we can’t accept degradable, compostable or bio degradable bags. Bags that are labelled degradable or compostable have been specifically manufactured to break down in the general waste stream. We can’t use them for recycling because they start to degrade before they’re processed.
No, you can leave the rigid plastic base inside as it’s made of high-density polyethylene which is also fully recyclable via the program.
preparing to drop off your soft plastics
No. Packaging materials should be ‘empty and dry’ but our recycling processes can tolerate a limited amount of contamination (such as a few crumbs or a bit of dried gravy). Please ensure your plastics are dry as wet plastic creates a mould problem for us.
No, it’s fine to bundle up all your unwanted shopping bags and packaging in a bag before placing in a REDcycle drop off bin. We don’t need them to be placed in our bins loose – like your council’s kerbside recycling needs to be. Note also that the soft plastics also don’t have to be bagged and can be placed in loose if you prefer.
No. We are not able to accept materials in black (or dark green) garbage bags. The supermarket staff and our drivers cannot easily see the contents of the bags, meaning that they cannot easily detect whether or not they contain any contaminants/garbage. In relation to individual pieces of black soft plastic (and black bags that do not contain other soft plastic packaging), these are fine to REDcycle, just please cut to A3 size pieces or smaller.
Not if it’s only a small paper label. A little paper doesn’t affect the recycling processes at all. If the label is bigger than A5 size, please do peel or cut it off.
No, there’s no need to cut these off. Please recycle with the lids on to prevent any residual yoghurt or baby food squirting out!
Check out Where to REDcycle to find the drop-off point nearest to you.
There are a few different types of REDcycle bins. REDcycle drop off bins are typically located near the checkout. If you have trouble finding it, please ask the supermarket’s customer service desk.
questions about drop-off points and participating businesses
In most stores the bin is located at the front of the store, typically near the customer service desk.
Unfortunately, sometimes stores do have to remove bins from time to time. This can be for a number of reasons such as cleaning the bins or due to contamination issues. Sadly not all customers use the bins for the intended purpose. Stores can often overcome this by putting the bins in less obvious locations but this is not always an option in all stores. Contamination is a serious issue for us.
Even if a store has removed their bin, if they are a participating store (check the store locator) bags can be handed to staff at the customer service desks for recycling.
We are currently launching new bins which hopefully will assist with this issue.
It is great to see so many people using the bins! Sometimes the REDcycle bins are full.
The bins are emptied by supermarket staff and taken back of house where they are picked up by our trucks each week. Sometimes supermarket staff are so busy with customers they are unable to empty the REDcycle bin as often as needed.
Even if the bins are full, you can still recycle your plastic. Just hand your bags to the staff at the customer service desk and they will add your plastic to those bags awaiting collection.
We are currently launching new larger bins which will assist with this issue.
Although we receive requests daily from REDcycle enthusiasts, we are measured in our approach to expansion to ensure the program can continue to thrive. While we might appear to be slow to respond to your request for a collection point in your area, you can be confident that we are working on it behind the scenes.
RED Group is not set up to offer collection services to businesses or other organisations due to logistical reasons. The REDcycle programme was established to provide an opportunity for consumers to recycle post-consumer household soft plastic waste only. Therefore we are also not able to accept commercial/industrial or large volume soft plastics. Please be mindful that additional deliveries from businesses via the supermarket recovery system could result in the system being overwhelmed and therefore the whole programme could be jeopardised.
At present, the RED Group is not set up to offer collection services to schools, day care centres or other businesses due to logistical reasons. We encourage everyone to utilise our existing network.
Please see Schools and the REDcycle Program for information on running a soft plastic recycling scheme at your school.
questions about the program
What are the current issues surrounding soft plastic recycling in Australia?
Consumer participation in the REDcycle program is at an all-time high with collection volumes increasing more than 350% since 2019 and Australians now returning over 5 million pieces of soft plastic a day.
During this time REDcycle has worked with several Australian recycling partners to process soft plastic into new products e.g., street furniture, bins, shopping trolleys, bollards, concrete aggregate for construction and asphalt additives for roads.
Due to several unforeseen challenges, exacerbated by the pandemic, REDcycle’s recycling partners are temporarily unable to accept and process soft plastics.
- In June 2022, Close the Loop, the largest volume offtake partner of REDcycle had a significant fire, resulting in their Tonerplas facility closing for reconstruction.
- Replas, our other offtake partner, has experienced significant pandemic-related downturns in market demand as well as other challenges including the delayed commercialisation of new products.
This combination has put untenable pressure on the REDcycle business model and as a result, REDcycle regrets to announce that it will temporarily pause its soft plastics collection program from 9 November 2022. REDcycle and its partners are committed to having the program back up and running as soon as possible.
What has happened to the soft plastic that REDcycle previously collected?
The REDcycle team took the unwanted but necessary decision to hold the material in storage in the short term. Holding soft plastics in stock is not a perfect solution, but REDcycle took the decision to hold material in the short term, at great personal expense to the organisation, because they are fundamentally and profoundly committed to keeping the material out of landfill.
The REDcycle team has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to find other processing solutions and end markets. Potential new opportunities are being presented every day, however they will take time to operationalise.
Have any of the soft plastic collected gone to landfill? Will it in the future?
No – the soft plastics collected through the REDcycle program are not sent to landfill. Any uncontaminated material that REDcycle receives will not be landfilled and will be processed in the future.
In our day-to-day operations, there are some instances where the plastic we receive has been contaminated and can’t be processed. This is a standard issue in all recycling programs and is not related to these current REDcycle challenges.
Is REDcycle collecting any new soft plastics?
No – all collection bins will temporarily be closed as of November 9.
What should I do with my soft plastic if I can’t return it to REDcycle?
For the short term, consumers are encouraged to put their soft plastics in their home rubbish bin Please do not put it in your home kerbside recycling bin (unless the Curby program is available in your area) as it is not recyclable in that system.
My local council is currently participating in a trial to collect soft plastic in the kerbside system. Has this affected that trial?
No – several local councils are running trials to assess the collection of soft plastics through the kerbside recycling system. These trials are unaffected by REDcycle’s program pause – please continue to participate in these trials.
What can I do to help?
We know our REDcycle community is passionate about keeping soft plastic out of landfill and away from Australia’s beautiful natural environments. Here are some of the things we can all do to help:
- Reduce and reuse: Now is a great time to cut back on unnecessary plastic and to start trying reusable packaging options wherever possible.
- Store the soft plastic at home: We recognise this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you are able to store the soft plastic at home, we will let you know when the program is back up and running.
- Have your voice heard: If you want to help REDcycle get back up and running, we encourage you to write to your local MP and let them know about the issue.
- Ensure that your materials are being dropped off at a participating REDcycle location (use the store locator to check – www.redcycle.net.au/where-to-redcycle/)
- Visit www.redcycle.net.au/what-to-redcycle/ to see what can and can’t be recycled via a REDcycle bin
- Avoid ‘contamination’
- There is no need to wash materials – ensure your plastics are dry as wet plastic creates a mould problem for us
- Materials should be ‘empty and dry’ (a limited amount of contamination such as a few crumbs or a bit of dried gravy is ok)
- A small paper label on bags is ok. If the label is bigger than A5 size, then please peel or cut it off.
- Yoghurt pouches – please recycle with the lids on to prevent any residual yoghurt or baby food squirting out!
- We can’t accept degradable, compostable or bio degradable bags. Bags that are labelled degradable or compostable have been specifically manufactured to break down in the general waste stream. We can’t use them for recycling because they start to degrade before they’re processed.
Thanks for helping us to keep contamination out of REDcycle bins!
We bring the collected plastic back to our facility for initial processing, then it is delivered to our Australian manufacturing partners:
- Replas (https://www.replas.com.au/), based in Ballarat, Victoria, who convert REDcycle material into a range of recycled products including indoor and outdoor furniture, bollards, and signage. All products are extremely robust, as well as water and termite resistant. They won’t crack, splinter or rot and will never need painting. Replas products are perfect for use in schools, park, public spaces and commercial premises.
Close the Loop, based in Somerton, Victoria, who utilise REDcycle material as a component of high performance recycled asphalt additive for road infrastructure known as Tonerplas (https://www.closetheloop.com.au/tonerplas/)
Plastic Forests, based in Albury, NSW, who use REDcycle material as a component of products such as mini wheel stops and air conditioner mounting blocks for the consumer market (https://plasticforests.com.au/product/air-con-mounting-blocks/).
- RED Group has collected enough pieces of soft post-consumer packaging to circle the world over 5.5 times*.
- That’s over 900 million pieces of plastic that’ll never end up in landfill, on our beaches or in our waterways.
- With a total weight of over 3600 tonnes, that’s equivalent to 900 elephants (weighing 4 tonnes each).
*(Assuming an average size of 25 cm per item, we’ve collected approximately 200 million metres of plastic packaging laid end to end. The circumference of the world is 40,075 km)
No, there are no harmful fumes produced at all. That’s because our manufacturing partner Replas uses only polyolefin polymers (plastics 2, 4 & 5) in the manufacturing process.
Polyolefin polymers are non-aromatic and non-carcinogenic, and don’t contain the nasty chemicals that some polymers, such as PVC, contain. When they are heated or burnt, the fumes are quite safe to breathe.
The majority of councils can’t accept soft plastic for recycling via their kerbside collection because soft plastic jams the automated sorting machines at the Materials Recovery Facility.
Recycled plastic furniture from Replas can be purchased at any time. View the vast product range at www.replas.com.au.