REDcycle did the right thing by stockpiling- Australia

REDcycle did the right thing by stockpiling- Australia

Posted on February 24, 2023 by DrRossH in Plastic Recycling


Stockpiling soft plastics Redcycle


Amidst all the media hyperventilating about the demise of REDcycle and the stockpiling of plastic, it is easy to think that all plastic recycling, and all recycling for that matter, is broken or worse still a fraud. It isn’t.

Unfortunately, the rot set in when previous Prime Minister Scott Morrison misquoted the statistics in a press release. He said only 12 per cent of yellow bin plastic was being recycled implying that the rest is sent to landfill. That is, that you and I are wasting our time putting out the yellow bin.

What he meant to say was that only 12 per cent of total Australian plastic was being recycled from the economy. He did not correct the record.

Ever since the media has been waiting for “gotcha” moments to show that the whole recycling sector is a fake.

It is extremely frustrating.

Here are some plastic facts:

  • We generate 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste each year;
  • Of that we recycle about 400,000 t mainly PET (such as coke bottles), HDPE (milk bottles) and LDPE (pallet wrap etc);
  • Only 150,000 t is soft plastic (bread bags, plastic bags etc);
  • REDcycle collected less than 7,500 t/yr of that; and therefore
  • REDcycle represents less than 5 per cent of available soft plastic and a miniscule fraction of all plastic available for recycling.

The success or failure of REDcycle is immaterial to recycling rates in Australia. It is obvious that our recycling rate for plastic is pathetic. About 15 per cent. Even plastic packaging rates are low at about 18 per cent. The economics of plastic recycling are busted. It is most often cheaper to landfill it than recycle it.