The proliferation of soft plastics and how to effectively dispose of them, is one of most urgent and complex problems facing modern society. According to a report commissioned by Blue Environment, in 2020/21 Australians used over 420,000 tonnes of soft plastics. Following the recent reports that the soft plastic recycling scheme REDcycle has paused its collections from supermarkets around the country, the need for a solution to this issue has become even greater.
In collaboration with the University of Wollongong, ISJO recently supported a community meeting which brought together stakeholders from across the region’s academic, business, government and non-profit sectors to find a way forward. A panel featuring experts from recyclers including Close the Loop and Licella, professors from the University of Wollongong and University of Technology Sydney, executive leaders from the NSW Environment Protection Authority and Circular Australia, innovators from sustainable packaging company Rooland and waste managers from Shoalhaven City Council Council drove discussions with over 100 attendees on the desire for local recycling facilities, the need to reduce reliance on soft plastics, advocacy for frameworks for innovation and the need for stronger regulation around recycled content in packaging.
With a focus on the current state of play, the challenges and opportunities and how the Illawarra Shoalhaven region can contribute to a solution, this was just the start. The ISJO has committed to continuing the conversation with interested stakeholders and collating regional data to enable mapping of local soft plastics recycling solutions.