Soft plastic is not fantastic in your recycling bin!

Not sure which bin to put your plastic in? Apply the scrunch test…

To make it easier for residents we commonly promote the scrunch test. That being, if the item can be scrunched and it pops back into the same shape, it is a rigid plastic that can be recycled.  If it stays scrunched up, it is a soft plastic, and if it breaks up, it is likely to be expanded polystyrene foam. Both soft plastic and polystyrene/styrofoam so cannot be recycled through your yellow kerbside bin for recycling.

Soft plastics including plastic bags and wrappers, wrap and tangle around machinery at the materials recycling facility (MRF). This prevents the machinery from working effectively. The machines then need to be stopped and cleared of the materials wrapped around them.  During this time, materials cannot be processed for recycling which wastes time and money.

Watch this video, and you’ll never try to recycle a plastic bag or wrapping in your recycle bin again:

video by ‘Block Club Chicago’

Plastic bags and other soft plastic wrapping also causes problems by getting caught in the paper and cardboard stream. This causes contamination and reduces the value and recyclability of the paper and cardboard.

paper carboard bale with plastic bags

So please leave plastic bags and soft plastics out.
Which bin?

Plastic bags and other soft plastics can be placed in the REDcycle bins found at many Coles and Woolworths stores. The soft plastics are recycled and made into outdoor furniture, bollards and board walks. Check the website REDcycle.net.au for store locations and a list of what can be recycled.

Compostable bags which are made from corn-starch or PLA should be placed in your green bin. These bags are mostly light green in colour and supplied through your local Council to use in your kitchen caddy/biobasket for collecting food scraps and other organic kitchen materials. Compostable bags are not to be confused with biodegradable bags click here to find out the difference.

Biodegradable plastic bags should be placed in your general waste to landfill bin

It is best if we can avoid and reduce using soft plastics and polystyrene by using reusable or recyclable options instead.

Although polystyrene and soft plastics cannot be recycled through kerbside collections, there are options to recycle these plastics if they are taken separately to a specialized collection point.

Polystyrene can be taken to Cool Foam (25 Barfield Crescent, Edinburgh North).