Media release from members of the Soft Plastics Taskforce - Coles and Woolworths

Friday, 24 February 2023: Coles and Woolworths have made an offer to REDcycle to take control of its stockpiled soft plastic and provide safe storage of the material while recycling solutions are explored.

Following Soft Plastics Taskforce meetings, yesterday the supermarkets extended the offer to REDcycle to help prevent soft plastics deposited by customers being unnecessarily sent to landfill. 

REDcycle is yet to respond, however the retailers’ ability to access and manage the stockpiles will require the cooperation of REDcycle, as the recycling company currently maintains control of the material and its storage arrangements across numerous locations.

The offer comes ahead of the release of a roadmap prepared by the Soft Plastics Taskforce, which is due to be published in the coming weeks. 

Australia’s soft plastic recycling capacity is limited, exacerbated by recent processing disruptions. While local recycling capacity is projected to increase over the next 18 months as facilities re-open or are newly established, there is still more to be done by industry and government to grow domestic soft plastic recycling capabilities. 

If REDcycle takes up this opportunity, the supermarkets will implement an interim strategy, such as safely storing material until it can be viably processed for recycling. Coles and Woolworths intend to work with the relevant state environment protection agencies (EPAs) to ensure their proposed storage arrangements meet the necessary safety requirements until the material can be processed. 

The storage and management of the stockpiled material would be paid for from a Soft Plastics Recycling Contribution Fund to which Coles and Woolworths will each provide an initial multi-million-dollar contribution. The supermarkets welcome contributions from brand and packaging members of the REDcycle program, whose products have been collected by the scheme. The Fund is intended to address the existing REDcycle stockpiles while industry and government continue to work on long-term future soft plastics waste solutions.

Brad Banducci, Woolworths Group Chief Executive Officer said: “We know Australians have been let down. We were very disappointed to learn that REDcycle hasn’t been recycling the soft plastics they collected from our stores, and we are working to make it right.

“Coles and Woolworths have taken this step to provide reassurance to the public that the soft plastics they took the effort to deposit in REDcycle’s bins won’t be unnecessarily sent to landfill.

“We know this may take some time. We hope REDcycle will allow us to help get the best outcome for the environment, and restore community trust in our recycling systems."

Matt Swindells, Coles Chief Operations and Sustainability Officer said the offer put to REDcycle is reflective of the commitment by both supermarkets to find the best environmental outcomes for the stockpiles and their customers. 

Matt said: “Our aim is to continue to work with governments and industry to find workable solutions to soft plastic recycling in Australia so our customers can resume the good work they’ve done over the past decade, in sorting their soft plastic and knowing that it will be recycled.

“Collectively Coles and Woolworths have paid more than $20 million to REDcycle over the last decade to ensure this would happen, and we remain deeply disappointed by the unrecycled stockpiles.”

Coles and Woolworths have been in constructive discussions with the EPAs around the safe management of REDcycle’s stockpiles. The agencies have evaluated the safety risk of a number of stockpiles. This assessment is based on potential fire risk arising from the manner in which the material has been stored by REDcycle, and the suitability of the storage facility. 

To date, the supermarkets have not been given access to the stockpiled material. They will need to assess whether any of the soft plastic has degraded to an extent where it is no longer suitable for reprocessing. Coles and Woolworths will work to recycle as much of the material they are given as possible. New storage arrangements for the material will be determined following safety inspections to understand whether any current storage facilities can be improved.


-  ENDS  -


For further information, contact:

Coles Media: 03 9829 5250 or

 Woolworths Media: 02 8885 1033 or



Notes to Editors 

The offer to REDcycle

The offer does not involve any assumption of past REDcycle liabilities. It is not an offer to acquire the REDcycle business.


REDcycle program

The REDcycle program was suspended in November 2022 after it came to light that the company had been stockpiling collected soft plastics for an unknown period due to insufficient processing capacity. While the supermarkets were not given any specific information on the volume or locations of stockpiled materials, it was determined that it would not be viable, nor responsible, to continue soft plastic collections under these conditions. 

For the vast majority of Australian households, the only avenue to recycle their soft plastic waste has been through the REDcycle bins available at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. The collection bins accepted household soft plastic waste from any source and saw grocery packaging, e-commerce parcels and items from a wide range of retailers and FMCG brands deposited for recycling.

REDcycle was founded in 2011 as an independent commercial business offering soft plastic recycling services. Over the following years, it grew to offer collection bins in all Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, as well as a small number of other sites. Coles, Woolworths and more than 270 consumer brands in Australia paid REDcycle to collect the soft plastics deposited for recycling. 


NSW EPA Draft Notice

No mandates have been issued to the supermarkets relating to the management of REDcycle’s stockpiles. On 3 February 2023, Coles and Woolworths were issued letters from the NSW EPA which outlined a draft of a potential Clean-up Notice for comment, which was widely reported on by media at the time. A further draft for comment has since been sent to the supermarkets, with a request for response by Monday, 27 February 2023. The NSW EPA has not issued a formal binding Clean Up Notice to either retailer. The offer made to REDcycle covers all national REDcycle stockpiled material, not only that identified in the NSW draft Notice. Both retailers have been engaging in constructive discussions with the Victorian, SA and NSW EPAs. 


Soft Plastics Taskforce

Coles made an application to the ACCC for urgent authorisation on behalf of Coles, Woolworths and ALDI to enable a joint roundtable of supermarkets to collaborate on interim solutions to the suspension of Redcycle’s soft plastic recycling services. The first meeting of the Soft Plastic Taskforce was in early December, following interim authorisation from the ACCC the week prior. 

Meetings are hosted by the Federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. The Taskforce has begun scoping out current and projected recycling capacity across a range of different processing methods, and its members have conducted a number of site visits to processing plants. The Taskforce will provide a public update in due course. ALDI offered limited access to the REDcycle program through a recently implemented (and consequently paused) trial in 12 stores, and accordingly is not part of the joint offer to assume REDcycle’s collected material.