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Nestlé and Australian recycler iQ Renew are taking the next steps in a trial that will see soft plastics collected through kerbside recycling. The trial will commence with 2000 households on the NSW Central Coast. There are plans to extend it later to some 140,000 homes.

The trial aims to find ways to collect household soft plastic and turn it into a resource.

Participating households will collect their clean soft plastics in a purpose-made bright yellow Curby bag. When the bag is full, consumers can tie it up, tag it and place it in their yellow recycling bin for pick up with their regular recycling collection.

Tags will identify the bags and help to improve the sorting process. The soft plastics will then be shredded and become a resource for use in other plastic products, chemical recycling, and energy recovery.

IQ Renew CEO Danial Gallagher said the trial aimed to test how collecting and processing soft plastics can be scaled up.

“We are delighted to partner with Nestlé and launch the Curby soft plastic recovery solution on the Central Coast,” he said.

“By piloting the Curby solution, residents of the Central Coast will help demonstrate that preventing soft plastic ending up in landfill is not only possible, but simple and highly achievable.”

Gallagher said the trial would answer several questions, including how will the community adopt this? Can we keep loose plastics out of other recyclables? Will the bags survive in the truck? And, can we use regular shopping bags?

“We’ve been testing ways to separate and recover soft plastic from other items in household recycling, which is challenging for sorting facilities,” Gallagher said.

“This trial will allow us to test that at larger scale, with the hope of bringing much needed recycling innovation to all Australians.”

Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez said that with soft plastics making up 30 per cent of the plastic packaging used in Australia, the company wanted to be part of finding new approaches to boosting recycling soft plastic packaging.

“While Nestlé wants to reduce its use of virgin plastics and increase our use of recycled packaging, this won’t happen without robust collection, sorting and processing systems,” she said.

“Experience in Australia and round the world shows that people are more likely to recycle when it’s easy to access, and that kerbside is most successful.”

Martinez said since the trial was first announced at the National Plastics Summit in March, the company had had many approaches from the waste and recycling industries, local governments, packaging manufacturers, and other companies making packaged goods wanting to know more.

“We already know Australians want better access to recycling for their soft plastics. Seeing this enthusiasm shared by so many is encouraging, as collective action by those with a shared vision for a waste-free future will be critical to solving this complex challenge at scale,” Martinez said.

Central Coast Council’s director roads transport and drainage Boris Bolgoff said the council is excited to be piloting new ways to recover soft plastics, using existing services and facilities at no additional cost.

“Right now more than half of Central Coast residents’ household waste is sent to landfill, with soft plastics being common due to difficulties in separating it from other types of waste and recyclables and limited markets for the product,” Bolgoff said.

“Soft plastics not only pollute our land but they also cause significant damage to our environment and marine life – which is something our residents value immensely.”

The Curby system is personified in its mascot: “Curby, the planet’s friendly bilby”.

Residents in the Central Coast Council area can sign up to be part of the initial phase of the trial at curbythebilby.com.au.

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