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In light of the recent collapse of the REDcycle programme, Boomerang Alliance has developed a plan for what it says will be the efficient recovery and recycling of household soft plastics. It is also calling for a comprehensive response from government, producers and retailers.

The NSW EPA has ordered clean ups on the stockpiled REDcycle soft plastics, likely leading to about 5,200 tonnes of waste currently stored in warehouses around the state being landfilled. There are estimated to be 12,400 tonnes of REDcycle soft plastics in storage around the country. REDcycle was only collecting about four per cent of the country's soft plastic waste.

Boomerang believes that to meet the nation’s 2025 packaging targets the country needs a proper and efficient pathway, and has been calling on the government to implement mandatory action, via a product stewardship scheme, to be imposed on the packaging sector.

This has yet to eventuate, although the most recent meeting of federal, state and territory environment ministers committed to reform packaging regulation. 

“The packaging sector has three years to achieve sufficient soft plastics recovery and recycling to meet the 2025 target. What is clear is that the regulatory architecture needs to dramatically change,” the Alliance stated. 

“The Commonwealth and state governments need to take legislative action at the earliest opportunity in 2023 to impose the 2025 packaging targets, along with obligations to fund and establish comprehensive collection arrangements, and use of the material as recycled content.

“This can be achieved via federal legislation, or unilateral action by one state, such as NSW, which would then force the pace nationally.”

Boomerang said that the product stewardship 'must be designed' with the following set of criteria to ensure its success. These include:

  • Producers and retailers of soft plastics avoid and reduce unnecessary soft plastic packaging;
  • Producers and retailers only provide packaging that has been specifically designed and labelled to be readily and easily recoverable by the resource recovery industry;
  • National standards and labelling are implemented to provide consumer information on soft plastic discard and guarantee the recovery of those soft plastics collected;
  • Governments and businesses support regulations and procurement practices that increase the market for recycled plastics;
  • Effective collection/transport services are introduced for both households and businesses using soft plastics;
  • Recovery facilities are designed to process soft plastics for the secondary market;
  • Investment in new markets for soft plastics, including plastic manufacturers to increase the use of recycled materials;
  • Producers are responsible for the cost associated with the collection, transport, recovery and processing of soft plastics; and
  • All measures in relation to soft plastic redesign, reduction and recovery, procurement, national standards, and use of recycled content must meet desired outcomes and the mandated targets of the product stewardship scheme.

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