Author: Alejandra Laclette
Australia has a target to recycle or compost 70% of plastic packaging and to phase out any problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025. However, recent trends resulting from COVID-19 indicate achieving these targets may be more challenging.
According to the CEO of Australia Council of Recycling (ACOR), Pete Shmigel, COVID-19 is adding to the massive challenges of plastic recycling in general.
“We need change at both the supply and demand ends: behavioural changes from Australians to get it right at the kerbside and to return soft plastics to supermarkets, and; policy changes from governments,” he said in an ACOR statement released during the height of coronavirus restrictions.
Planet Ark, PREP Design and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation were keen to help bring these changes about through an education campaign on social media. During lockdown, we introduced the #SoftPlasticsRecyclingChallenge on LinkedIn to encourage Australians to recycle their soft plastics through the REDcycle collection program. With the majority of Australians still having access to supermarkets for grocery shopping during lockdown, participants are returning their soft plastics to Coles or Woolworths stores for recycling and providing an example to others.
What is great about this challenge is the participation of not only those in the packaging or resource management industries, but also peers from other sectors such as Optus, Australian Ethical Investment and FoodBank Australia, and even Federal Ministers. It has also served to raise awareness of the Australasian Recycling Label, which provides advice such as ‘Return to Store’ or ‘Store Drop Off’ for soft plastics.
If you have not yet taken on the challenge, what are you waiting for? To particpate, simply upload a photo or video of yourself recycling your soft plastics through REDcycle on the social media platform of your choosing using the hashtag #SoftPlasticsRecyclingChallenge. Below is some text that you can copy and paste. Make sure you challenge at least another person so that we continue raising awareness on soft plastics recycling and reducing contamination in our home recycling bins.
Suggested copy for your social media post:
‘I am taking on the #softplasticsrecyclingchallenge. Soft plastics are the number one contaminant in our recycling bins, by taking them back to Coles or Woolworths stores, we are not only reducing contamination in our bins, but making sure this valuable resource will be transformed into new products.
Make sure you look for the #AustralasianRecyclingLabel and if it says ‘Return to Store’ or ‘Store Drop Off’, drop this packaging off at soft plastics recycling bins at Coles or Woolworths. I now challenge [Insert Name].’
After managing the sustainability educational program at her corporate job in Mexico, Alejandra decided to move to Sydney and undertake a Master in Sustainable Development, while working as a Sustainability Consultant for a compostable packaging company. She's now Planet Ark's Recycling Label Program Manager.
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