The ACCC proposes to grant authorisation with conditions for 12 months to allow the major supermarkets to continue collaborating on a short-term solution to manage the soft plastics stockpile and to facilitate the resumption of in-store collections for recycling.
A public consultation process on the draft determination will begin shortly.
The ACCC granted conditional interim authorisation to Coles, Woolworths and ALDI in November 2022, following REDcycle’s announcement it was suspending its return-to-store soft plastics recycling. The supermarkets, via the Soft Plastics Taskforce, released a Roadmap to Restart plan which outlines its work to date and its roadmap over the next 12 months to manage the stockpile and resume collections.
“The REDcycle liquidation has provoked a lot of community concern and this proposed authorisation will allow the supermarkets to develop and implement a solution to potentially address the environmental risk of the existing stockpile of soft plastics and future waste,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.
"We believe the authorisation will lead to public benefits such as the developing of interim solutions to be jointly funded by the supermarkets, the maximising the opportunities to divert soft plastics from landfill and ensuring clear and consistent messaging to consumers on the resumption of in-store collections."
“Given our proposed authorisation is for 12 months, the supermarkets would need to apply for authorisation for any longer-term solutions,” Mr Keogh said.
The ACCC may grant an authorisation for any conduct that could raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act when it is satisfied that the likely public benefit from the conduct outweighs any likely public detriment.
“We are proposing to grant authorisation with conditions to ensure there is continued transparency on the progress of the roadmap and that the public are kept up to date,” Mr Keogh said.
The interim authorisation remains in place and will continue until it is revoked, the application for authorisation is withdrawn, or the date the ACCC’s final determination comes into effect.
“Separate to this authorisation application, the ACCC continues to engage with industry stakeholders and representative bodies to ensure clarity and transparency in communications so as to minimise the risk of consumers being misled by representations on packaging about the recycling of soft plastics,” Mr Keogh said.
More information is available on the ACCC’s website public registers.
REDcycle was an industry-led program developed and implemented by the RG Programs and Services Pty Ltd, a Melbourne-based consultation and recycling organisation. Since 2011, it had been the only return-to-store, soft plastics recovery program in Australia, facilitating the collection and processing of soft plastics into a variety of durable recycled plastic products. Soft plastics include food packaging, plastic bags, cling wrap and bubble wrap.
Product manufacturers and the major supermarkets partnered with REDcycle to run the program. REDcycle provided some initial processing and then delivered the materials to its partner recycling facilities to process the soft plastics into new recycled plastic products, or otherwise utilise the recovered materials.
The scheme had been running in nearly 2000 supermarket outlets across the country, with collection points in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, and more recently since July 2022, in ALDI stores.
On 9 November 2022 REDcycle announced that it was suspending its soft plastics collection program as its recycling partners had temporarily stopped accepting and processing soft plastics. The suspension of the REDcycle program removed the only established and widespread recycling pathway for consumers and created significant concerns about existing stockpiles and how consumers can recycle soft plastics.
Following REDcycle’s announcement, Coles and Woolworths each announced that they would be suspending soft plastics collections from their stores until further notice.
On 25 November 2022, the ACCC granted interim authorisation to the supermarkets.
On 27 February 2023, REDcycle was declared insolvent and a liquidator was appointed.
On 7 March 2023, the Soft Plastics Taskforce issued a Roadmap to Restart for the resumption of in-store collection.
The Soft Plastics Taskforce is chaired by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.
On 3 April 2023, we moved to a different platform to manage our email alerts for media releases and speeches.
If you did not renew your subscription before this date, you will have been automatically unsubscribed from these email alerts.
You can sign up to receive email alerts in our new platform.