Coles sees soft plastic recycling increase by 32 per cent

Supermarket giant Coles has seen a 32 per cent increase in the recycling of its soft plastics in FY19, thanks to the introduction of REDcycle bins at stores.

Coles’ Sustainability Report shows that shoppers recycled 905 tonnes or 226 million pieces of soft plastics during the year, including biscuit packets; lolly bags; frozen food bags and bread; rice and pasta bags which cannot be recycled through traditional kerbside recycling services.

Coles was the first supermarket in Australia to roll out REDcycle bins at all stores last year. The service turns used materials into new furniture, playground equipment and materials for walkways in parks, roads and bollards.

“The increase in use of REDcycle bins shows just how significant the issue of reducing waste has become for customers. We know that recycling is important to our customers, and we are seeing many people changing their habits to reduce waste that ends up in [landfills],” Coles chief property and export officer Thinus Keeve said.

“Since we partnered with REDcycle in 2011, our customers have recycled enough pieces of plastic to go around the world five times which is just fantastic. We want to become Australia’s most sustainable retailer, so we are looking at ways to divert even more waste from landfill and reduce packaging.”

The soft plastics that are collected in REDcycle bins are raw materials that are used by

Australian manufacturer Replas and Plastic Forests uses the soft plastics as a raw material to create benches, garden edging and wheel stops, among other things. REDcycle also partnered with Close the Loop and Downer EDI to provide soft plastic as a road base.

RED group director of development Elizabeth Kasell said consumers have jumped on board to support soft-plastic recycling, helping retailers, distributors and manufacturers work together for a better outcome for materials that were previously going to landfill.

“The beauty of this program is its simplicity. We’re not asking people to change their routines – it’s just a matter of remembering to take their plastic packaging with them next time they visit their local Coles supermarket. And we were delighted to roll out our bins to Coles supermarkets across the country, it’s made a huge difference,” Kasell said.

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