Coles and Woolworths make the promise to divert REDcycle stockpiles from the trash
Coles and Woolworths issued a press statement on behalf of the Soft Plastics Taskforce.
Fri., February 24, 2023: REDcycle has received an offer from Coles and Woolworths to assume control of its soft plastic stockpile and provide secure storage of the material while recycling options are investigated.
Following meetings of the Soft Plastics Taskforce, supermarkets yesterday issued the invitation to REDcycle in an effort to stop soft plastics left behind by customers from being unnecessarily disposed of in landfills.
Although REDcycle has not yet responded, access to and management of the stockpiles by the retailers will depend on REDcycle’s collaboration since the recycling company currently has control over the material and its storage arrangements across a number of locations.
The offer comes before the Soft Plastics Taskforce’s plan, which is scheduled to be released in the upcoming weeks.
Australia’s capability for recycling soft plastic is constrained, which has been made worse by recent processing hiccups. There is still work to be done by business and the government to expand domestic soft plastic recycling capabilities, even though it is anticipated that local recycling capacity will rise over the next 18 months as facilities reopen or are created.
If REDcycle seizes this chance, the grocery stores will adopt a stopgap plan, such as securely keeping materials until they can be profitably processed for recycling. In order to ensure that their suggested storage arrangements satisfy the necessary safety requirements until the material can be processed, Coles and Woolworths intend to work with the pertinent state EPAs.
Coles and Woolworths will each make an initial multi-million dollar donation to a Soft Plastics Recycling Contribution Fund, which will be used to pay for the storage and management of the stockpiled material. The REDcycle program’s brand and packaging members, whose products have been collected by the programme, are invited to donate to the supermarkets. The Fund’s goal is to handle the REDcycle stockpiles currently in place while business and government continue to develop long-term future solutions to soft plastics waste.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci stated: “We are aware that Aussies have been let down. We are trying to put things right after learning that REDcycle hasn’t been recycling the soft plastics they’ve gathered from our stores.
“Coles and Woolworths have taken this action to reassure the public that the soft plastics they went to the trouble to place in REDcycle’s receptacles won’t be needlessly disposed of.
We’re aware that it might take some time. We anticipate that REDcycle will enable us to contribute to the environmental community’s restoration of faith in our recycling systems.
The offer made to REDcycle, according to Matt Swindells, Chief Operations and Sustainability Officer at Coles, reflects the dedication of both supermarkets to find the best environmental solutions for the stockpiles and their customers.
In order for our customers to continue the good work they’ve been doing for the past ten years of sorting their soft plastic and knowing that it will be recycled, Matt said: “Our aim is to continue to work with governments and industry to find workable solutions to soft plastic recycling in Australia.
“To guarantee this would happen, Coles and Woolworths collectively paid more than $20 million to REDcycle over the last decade, and we remain incredibly disappointed by the unrecycled stockpiles,” they said.
With regard to the safe management of REDcycle’s stockpiles, Coles and Woolworths have engaged in productive talks with the EPAs. Several stockpiles have had their safety risks assessed by the agencies. This evaluation is based on the possible fire risk associated with how REDcycle has stored the material and the suitability of the storage facility.
The material that has been piled up has not yet been made available to the stores. They must determine whether any flexible plastic has deteriorated to the point where it cannot be processed again. Coles and Woolworths will make an effort to recycle as much of the stuff as they can. Following safety checks to see if any existing storage facilities can be improved, new storage arrangements for the material will be decided.
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Contact: for more details.
Media.Relations@coles.com.au or call Coles Media at (03) 9829 5250.
Woolworths Communications can be reached at 02 8885 1033 or email@example.com.
Offer made to REDcycle
There is no assumption of previous REDcycle liabilities as part of the offer. It is not a bid to buy the REDcycle company.
After it was discovered that the business had been storing collected soft plastics for an unkown amount of time due to a lack of processing capacity, the REDcycle programme was suspended in November 2022. Despite the fact that the supermarkets were not provided any specific information regarding the quantity or locations of materials stockpiled, it was decided that carrying on with soft plastic collection under these circumstances would not be practical or ethical.
The REDcycle bins found at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets have been the only option for recycling soft plastic waste for the overwhelming majority of Australian households. In addition to grocery packaging, e-commerce packages, and items from a variety of retailers and FMCG companies, the collection bins took household soft plastic waste from all sources.
REDcycle was established in 2011 as a stand-alone company that provides soft plastic recovery services. In the years that followed, it expanded to include collection bins at a few select locations in addition to all Coles and Woolworths stores. More than 270 consumer companies in Australia, including Coles, Woolworths, and others paid REDcycle to pick up the soft plastics left out for recycling.
Draft Notification from NSW EPA
The stores have not been given any directives regarding the administration of REDcycle’s stockpiles. Coles and Woolworths received letters from the NSW EPA on February 3, 2023, asking them to comment on a draught of a potential Clean-up Notice. This was extensively covered in the media at the time. The supermarkets have since received a new draught for comment; an answer is required by Monday, February 27, 2023. Neither retailer has received an official, legally binding Clean Up Notice from the NSW EPA. The material not just mentioned in the NSW draught Notice, but all national REDcycle stored material, is covered by the offer made to REDcycle. The Victorian, SA, and NSW EPAs have been having productive conversations with both companies.
Committee for Soft Plastics
On behalf of Coles, Woolworths, and ALDI, Coles submitted a request to the ACCC for an immediate authorization that would allow the supermarkets to work together in a roundtable to develop temporary fixes for the suspension of Redcycle’s soft plastic recycling services. Early in December, the Soft Plastic Taskforce held its first meeting after receiving temporary authorization from the ACCC the week before.
The Federal Commission of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water hosts meetings. The Taskforce has started assessing recycling capability, both present and future, for a variety of processing techniques, and its members have visited several processing facilities. In due time, the Taskforce will release a public update. ALDI did not participate in the joint offer to take over the REDcycle program’s collected materials because it only provided restricted access to the REDcycle programme through a recently implemented (and subsequently paused) trial in 12 stores.