While conscious living has continued to be an important factor in Aussies lives, a quarter (26 per cent) of the nation has admitted to having limited knowledge on recycling and soft plastics recycling.
Shoppers recycled enough pieces of plastic to go around the world one and half times at Coles last year, representing a 32 per cent increase on the previous year.
Revealed in Coles’ Sustainability Report, Coles customers recycled 905 tonnes or 226 million pieces of soft plastics – including packaging such as biscuit packets, lolly bags, frozen food bags and bread, rice and pasta bags which cannot be recycled through most kerbside recycling services.
Coles became the first major Australian supermarket to roll out REDcycle bins in all supermarkets last year.
Customers can place plastic bags and soft plastic packaging in REDcycle bins at the front of Coles stores so they can then be recycled for a range of uses such as furniture, playground equipment and materials for walkways in parks, roads and bollards.
Locals in Hornsby in New South Wales, Yarraville in Victoria, Kenmore in Queensland, St Agnes in South Australia, Kingston in Tasmania, Jamison in ACT and Inglewood in Western Australia are among the most dedicated soft plastic recyclers in the country, with these stores diverting the most plastic from landfill.
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Coles chief property and export officer Thinus Keeve said customers should be commended for remembering to bring their soft-plastics back to store.
“The increase in use of REDcycle bins shows just how significant the issue of reducing waste has become for customers,” he said. “We know that recycling is important to our customers, and we are seeing many people changing their habits to reduce waste that ends up in landfill.”
“Since we partnered with REDcycle in 2011, our customers have recycled enough pieces of plastic to go around the world five times which is just fantastic. We want to become Australia’s most sustainable retailer, so we are looking at ways to divert even more waste from landfill and reduce packaging.”
The soft plastic collected in REDcycle bins at Coles supermarkets is used as a raw material by Australian manufacturers, Replas and Plastic Forests. It is converted into a range of uses, including playground benches, garden edging, wheel stops, walkways in parks, bollards and the customer seats used in Coles supermarkets. REDcycle has also partnered with Close the Loop and Downer EDI to provide soft plastic for road base.
RED Group director of development Elizabeth Kasell is proud that consumers have jumped on board to support soft-plastic recycling. This is helping retailers, distributors and manufacturers work together for a better outcome for materials that were previously going to landfill.
“The beauty of this program is its simplicity. We’re not asking people to change their routines – it’s just a matter of remembering to take their plastic packaging with them next time they visit their local Coles supermarket. And we were delighted to roll out our bins to Coles supermarkets across the country, it’s made a huge difference,” Kasell said.