How To Recycle Soft Plastics!

Hello hello hello!! Happy New Year! (a little late, I know). One of my big new years resolutions (or goals really, or rather things I’m focusing more on this year) is to start recycling the soft plastics my family and I use.

I had no idea that you could actually recycle soft plastics until recently, when I saw a post from @simpleishliving on Instagram showing her year’s worth of plastics all washed, dried, packed and ready for her to recycle. I was so inspired to do the same, as I’ve really been trying to reduce the amount of plastic I use, and even buy, when purchasing foods (opting for produce not packed in plastic, etc.), and it’s been something I’ve really been hesitant about when it comes to throwing plastic away as it does end up in landfill, or worse in our oceans, waterways, and ecosystems where micro plastics, pollution and other issues occur. So! When I heard about places that took in soft plastics to recycle I was over the moon and started collecting, washing, and drying out all the plastics I could so they’re all ready to go for when I take them to the recycling facilities.

simpleish living post
@Simpleishliving’s year’s worth of plastics she’s collected; washed, dried, and ready for recycling at @redcyclebyredgroup

Where To Take Your Soft Plastics To Be Recycled

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, where do you take them to be recycled?” Great question! Glad you asked. 😉 In Australia, there are a few different places that will accept soft plastics for recycling. REDcycle are one of the biggest companies at the moment that will take your soft plastics for recycling, and you can often find their drop-off bins at big Aussies supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths. However, if you visit their site, you can locate the nearest REDcycle drop-off point near you to take your plastics to, as well as view a list of what plastics are accepted, and what aren’t (in case you weren’t sure of what would be taken as recyclable).

REDcycle bin
A REDcycle bin located at a Coles supermarket.

What Can And Can’t Be Recycled

This list can be viewed on the REDcycle website (you can also print it off there too – which is what I did, and then stuck it to my fridge so I could constantly refer to it when recycling the plastics we used), but I’ll share it below too to give you an idea of soft plastics that can and can’t be recycled (yet).

YES PLEASE!

  • Biscuit packets (outer wrapper only)
  • Bread bags (without the tie)
  • Bubble wrap (large sheets cut into A3 size pieces)
  • Cat and dog food pouches (as clean and dry as possible)
  • Cellophane from bunches of flowers (cut into A3 size pieces)
  • Cereal box liners
  • Chip and cracker packets (silver lined)
  • Chocolate and snack bar wrappers
  • Cling film – GLAD and COLES HOME brand ONLY
  • Confectionery bags
  • Dry pet food bags
  • Fresh produce bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Green bags (Polypropylene Bags)
  • Ice cream wrappers
  • Large sheets of plastic that furniture comes wrapped in (cut into A3 size pieces)
  • Netting produce bags (any metal clips removed)
  • Newspaper and magazine wrap
  • Pasta bags
  • Pet food bags (chaff/horse/chicken) – both the plastic and woven polypropylene types (but not woven nylon). Cut into A3 size pieces and shake free of as much product as possible
  • Plastic Australia Post satchels
  • Plastic carrier bags from all stores
  • Plastic film wrap from grocery items such as nappies and toilet paper
  • Plastic sachets
  • Potting mix and compost bags – both the plastic and woven polypropylene types (cut into A3 size pieces and free of as much product as possible)
  • Rice bags – both plastic and the woven type (if large, cut into A3 size pieces)
  • Snap lock bags / zip lock bags
  • Squeeze pouches with lid on (e.g. yoghurt/baby food)
  • Wine/water bladders – clear plastic ones only
  • Please make sure your plastic is dry and as empty as possible.

NO THANKS!

  • Plastic bottles
  • Plastic containers
  • Any rigid plastic such as meat trays, biscuit trays or strawberry punnets
  • Adhesive tape
  • Balloons (of any kind)
  • Biodegradable/degradable/compostable plastics
  • Blister packs, tablets and capsule packaging
  • Blow up pool, pool toys or beds – plastic or PVC
  • Bread bag tags
  • Christmas tinsel and Christmas trees
  • Cling wrap/Cling film – with the EXCEPTION OF GLAD and COLES HOME brand
  • Coffee bags
  • Cooler bags
  • Disposable food handling gloves of any variety
  • Drinking straws
  • Film negatives and x-rays
  • Fishing line
  • Foam or polystyrene of any kind
  • Foil/Alfoil of any kind
  • Food waste
  • Glass
  • Laminated materials and overhead transparencies
  • Medical waste materials
  • Nylon – woven, soft or fishing line
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Paper post packs
  • Plastic/clear vinyl packaging from sheets and doonas etc.
  • Plastic packaging that has contained meat
  • Plastic strapping used for securing boxes and pallets
  • Powdered milk packets, made of foil
  • PVC
  • Rope of any variety
  • Rubber, rubber gloves, latex
  • Tarpaulins
  • Tin cans
  • VHS Tape
  • Vinyl – any type of vinyl packaging
  • Wet plastic materials as mould is a problem for us
  • Wine/water bladders – foil based
  • Wrapping paper and cardboard, ribbons or bows

Note: It’s important to wash your soft plastics and let them dry before you recycle them!

What Happens To The Plastic When Its Recycled?

So, once you’ve collected your plastics, washed, dried, and dropped them off at a collection bin near you, what happens next? Well, the collected plastic is then returned to RED Group’s facility for initial processing, then delivered to manufacturer Replas (RED group’s partner) where it undergoes a transformation to be turned into recycled products.
Replas uses the material as the resource to produce a huge range of recycled-plastic products, from fitness circuits to sturdy outdoor furniture, bollards, signage and more.

And that’s it! Voila! How fantastic is that! And what a great way to reduce the amount of plastic being put into landfill, our oceans, and ecosystems. I’ll be sharing updates of my soft plastics recycling on Instagram if you’d like to follow my journey there, otherwise stay tuned for future posts on my trash walks, repurposing of old, broken, or so-called “useless/rubbish” items, and much more!

Trash walk pic
One of my trash walk hauls; I’ve separated out the items I’ve collected to wash, dry and add to my soft plastic collection to recycle.

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