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Coles and Woolworths are ordered to dump 5,200 tonnes of soft plastics after REDcycle fail

Coles and Woolworths are ordered to dump 5,200 tonnes of soft plastics in landfill in major recycling fail

Coles and Woolworths have been told to dispose of 5,200 tonnes of soft plastics after it was found their recycling program secretly stored the waste in warehouses.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority gave the orders to the supermarkets after discovering REDcycle stored soft plastics in 15 warehouses and storage depots across the state- instead of recycling them as intended.

REDcycle had donation bins in thousands of Coles and Woolworths stores across Australia and stopped its recycling operations several months ago but continued to collect soft plastics. 

The recycling program claimed it collected up to five million pieces of plastic everyday from supermarkets and other partners, including Australia Post. 

The mission of disposing the plastics into landfill is expected to cost the supermarkets $3million. 

The EPA and Fire Rescue NSW are now concerned about potential fire threats from the stockpiles of waste.

One of Australia’s biggest recycling programs that partnered with Coles and Woolworths secretly stored thousands of tonnes of soft plastics in warehouses (pictured, a REDcycle bin in Coles)

‘These stockpiles are stored from the floor to the ceiling, blocking entryways and preventing adequate ventilation with the soft plastic estimated to fill about three and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools,’ NSW EPA chief executive Tony Chappel said.

The recycling program has stored more than 12,000 tonnes of soft plastics across sites in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

Mr Chappel said the extent of the waste sitting in warehouses was ‘very concerning’.

‘Thousands of customers diligently collected soft plastics and dropped them into their local supermarket’s collection bin because they trusted their waste would be diverted from landfill and recycled,’ he said. 

‘As we transition to a circular and net zero economy, supermarkets have a responsibility to customers and the environment to address plastic packaging and take positive actions that contribute to solutions rather than the problem.’

More to come 


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