In the wake of the failure of the REDcycle scheme, the Greens have called for a statewide Soft Plastics Strategy, which includes market interventions to ensure there’s a market for products made from recycled plastics, more investment in recycling facilities and a phase out of more single-use soft plastics.
The government’s failure to hold big companies to account for creating plastic waste, and their failure to mandate recycling targets, is to blame for any recyclable soft plastic items sent to landfill as a result of REDcycle’s collapse.
The Greens plan for Victoria includes:
- Establish a working group to set ambitious and mandatory procurement targets. The Victorian Government must provide the soft plastics recycling industry certainty to invest by setting procurement targets for use of soft plastics in products like footpaths, railway bollards, street furniture and playground equipment.
- A ban on more single-use plastics to stop the creation of pointless plastic packaging, including fruit and veg wrapped in plastic, produce bags, free heavy-weight plastic bags, coffee cups, take away containers, unnecessary and excessive plastics like around dry pasta or mini chips packets inside bigger plastic packaging.
- Make supermarkets responsible for reducing plastic packaging. Require major supermarkets implement alternatives to single use soft plastics and plastic containers by creating BYO container/bag systems for deli items and certain bulk dry goods, and refill stations for items such as dishwashing liquid.
- Boosting recycling capacity, by investing $150 million in building or upgrading recycling factories to better recycle plastics and process green waste. This will boost jobs and ensure the recycling and green waste we put in our kerbside bins and REDcycle bins in the future is actually recycled.
- Cut plastic bottle waste, by investing $100,000 to install water bubblers in shopping strips, parks and train stations across the state, so people caught short aren’t forced to purchase expensive bottled water.
Attributable to Victorian Greens spokesperson for Climate and Environment Ellen Sandell MLA:
“Victorians are rightly furious that there’s no serious effort by governments to phase out pointless, unnecessary plastic packaging.
“The suspension of the REDCycle recycling program this week is due to a lack of ambition by governments to support plastic recycling and find alternatives to excessive plastic packaging.
“Victorians would be horrified to learn that it’s cheaper for industry to buy virgin plastic than recycled plastic. Victorians are also rightly annoyed that every time they go to the supermarket, so many products are wrapped in multiple layers of unnecessary plastic.
“People have shown they’ll go out of their way to do the right thing by taking their soft plastics to supermarkets for recycling. It’s governments who now need to step up their action by phasing out incessant plastic and making the recycling system work."
Attributable to Australian Greens spokesperson for waste and recycling, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson:
“In light of this week’s shocking news, I call on the Victorian Government to convene an emergency working group to set ambitious soft plastic procurement targets.
“Underlying the collapse of REDcycle is a lack of demand for soft plastic recycled products.
“Government procurement of soft plastic recycled content is key for underpinning the investment and commerciality of this sector, especially in the early stages of transitioning to a circular economy.
“The Commonwealth Government has recognised this but failed to take meaningful action the same way it has failed to introduce mandatory national packaging targets.
“Meanwhile States have led the way in various aspects of waste and recycling and I call on the Victorian Government to do the right thing and step up right now.
"Every day the Government fails to take meaningful action on recycling is another day our environment suffers and another day that Victorians miss out on job opportunities that could be created in a true circular economy."