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Australian supermarkets suspend film collections – update

The operators of a major collection scheme for plastic film in Australia have been charged by regulators after the programme was suspended late last year.

REDcycle, part of a Melbourne-based consultancy and recycling organisation, collected ‘soft’ plastics from Woolworths and Coles where shoppers returned more than five million pieces daily. However, after reports in the Australian media that the scrap was being stockpiled rather recycled, the soft plastics collection was, in REDcycle’s words, ‘temporarily paused’.

It has now emerged that the operators behind the scheme, RG Programs and Services may be fined after being charged by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for allegedly failing to provide information about the locations of warehouses secretly stockpiling plastic bags.

It has been charged with three counts of failing to comply with an information gathering notice. It is claimed that around 3 000 tonnes of plastics had not been recycled but were found in December across six sites.

At the time of the suspension, REDcycle mentioned two problems. In June 2022, Close the Loop, the largest volume off-take partner of REDcycle had a significant fire, resulting in the closure of its Tonerplas facility for an expected six months.

Tonerplas uses the film as an additive ingredient for road asphalt. The other off-take partner, Replas, was said to have experienced ‘significant pandemic-related downturns in market demand’ as well as other challenges including ‘the delayed commercialisation of new products’.

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