- Sustainability advocates say REDcycle’s suspension of operations should be a wake-up call to reduce reliance on soft plastics.
- Only a small proportion of the flexible plastics used in Australia have been recycled through the scheme.
- The founder of Plastic Free July says the use and regulation of plastic production is necessary.
Sustainability advocates say this should be a wake-up call for more meaningful action to tackle plastic waste in Australia.
REDcycle gave supermarkets a ‘free pass’, it is claimed
Lindsay Miles, a waste educator, told SBS News that REDcycle had been a “free pass” for supermarkets that acted as collection points for the recycler.
Sustainability advocates say consumers need better options when it comes to packaging. Source: Getty / Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd
“They used it to say, ‘look, we’re doing something,'” she said.
“Rather than looking at their packaging and their systems, and trying to reduce their use of plastic or change the way they do it, they shift the burden onto us and make it our problem to manage,” Ms Miles said.
The waste hierarchy shows the different waste management options sorted by those that are best for the planet.
Reducing waste by avoiding using something and reusing things comes before recycling in what is called the waste hierarchy.
“As a society, we don’t buy single-use plastic because we love it, we buy it because everything is smothered in it,” she wrote in a blog post.
Call launched to regulate plastic production
Plastic Free July founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz said it’s cheaper for companies to create new plastics and there are no regulations to stop them.
Founder of Plastic Free July and Executive Director of the Plastic Free Foundation, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz. Source: Provided / Tashi Room
“Plastic producers and manufacturers and brand owners can use virgin [newly produced] plastics because they are cheaper and easier than using recycled content,” she said.
“We need legislation that requires brand owners to use recycled content and industry to be responsible for packaging throughout the life of that item, just like we do in container deposit systems.”
“Selling cleaning products as concentrates where water is added at home is another good way to reduce the overall amount of packaging,” she said.
What is the future of flexible plastics?
During this same period, the goal is for 100% of packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable and for packaging to consist of an average of 50% recycled content.
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