The “Aha” moment that immediately halved my waste to landfill: recycling soft plastics

Recycling soft plastics. It’s not difficult, for many people it is not time-consuming, and it makes a huge difference to your personal or household waste to landfill.

Shortly after moving into my first non-sharehouse home, I discovered that my local supermarket collected soft plastics for recycling.

It was a moment that completely changed the way I deal with waste in my home.

This is going back four years now, and maybe I was late to the party then; I honestly have no idea how long the REDcycle program had been running already, but I feel it’s gained a lot of ground in the last 4 years so many of you are probably already recycling your soft plastics. Feel free to read on anyway! I learned a little more about what happens to it and how best to prepare the soft plastics for recycling by researching for this post, so you may find out something new.

However, if you are still putting glad wrap, snap lock bags, plastic bags, chip packets, frozen vegetable bags, bread bags, chocolate bar or icecream wrappers, bubble wrap, dry pet food bags, potting mix or compost bags, pasta or rice bags or similar items in your landfill, and you live in Australia, please, PLEASE go to http://www.redcycle.net.au/where-to-redcycle/ to find your nearest soft plastics drop off location.

I don’t need to tell you what a huge difference it makes to eliminate these items from what goes to landfill.

What’s more, the soft plastics recycled by the REDcycle program end up being turned into furniture! And it all happens in Australia.

Because of the sheer amount of space that soft plastics take up, since recycling mine, I have reduced the amount of waste I send to landfill by more than half. Most weeks we don’t even need to put the landfill bin out for collection because there simply isn’t enough in there to fill it.

While it may seem like a hassle – and I have to admit, when I get lazy and my laundry is suddenly filled with bags of soft plastics, I sometimes bemoan my choice to do the right thing! – ultimately it is such a big win for the environment with such a small inconvenience to individuals, that it is hard to make excuses about this one if you live somewhere near a drop off location.

Smaller pieces of soft plastics can be collected inside a larger one – say your dog’s dryfood bag or an empty bag of potting mix, and then you can take this bag to the drop off location (usually a Coles or Woolworths and for some of you maybe even your normal supermarket), pop it in the bin and continue on with your day. REDcycle even specifically asks you not to wash out your soft plastics, so it’s pretty easy. Just empty as much product from it as you can and put it in dry. You can even recycle those really large bits of plastic that new furniture comes wrapped in. They just ask you to cut it to A3-sized pieces first.

Visit http://www.redcycle.net.au/ to read more about what can and cannot be recycled through this program, to see examples of the furniture produced from Australia’s recycled soft plastics and to find your nearest drop off location. There are currently 630 locations across Australia and they are expanding all the time so if there’s none near you yet, why not write to them to suggest expanding into your area!

This one small change will make a huge reduction in your household’s contributions to landfill. Just another easy step to living better!

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