The ACCC has granted conditional authorisation to allow the major supermarkets to continue their collaboration to manage the soft plastics stockpile and resume in-store collections after REDcycle suspended its recycling operations.

The ACCC previously granted conditional interim authorisation to Coles, Woolworths and ALDI in November 2022, which allowed the supermarkets to collaborate via the Soft Plastics Taskforce. A result of this collaboration was the Taskforce’s Roadmap to Restart plan which is an interim plan to restore community access to soft plastics recycling through Australian supermarkets.

“We have granted this final authorisation to allow supermarkets to continue their discussions around the issue of in-store collections, as outlined in the Roadmap to Restart,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

We believe this conditional authorisation is in the public interest, reflecting public concern about the stockpiling of soft plastics and the need to divert soft plastics from landfill and inform consumers about the resumption of in-store collections.”

“The authorisation has been granted with conditions that ensure there is continued transparency on the progress towards the roadmap and that the public are kept up to date,” Mr Keogh said.

The ACCC may grant an authorisation to companies 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. For this authorisation, the ACCC has decided to specify conditions which relate to the provision of information, progress reporting requirements and the termination of arrangements upon expiry of authorisation. 

“This authorisation is for 12 months and the supermarkets would need to apply for further authorisation for any longer-term solutions that involve collaboration between the supermarkets,” Mr Keogh said.

“The ACCC has also been engaging with industry stakeholders and representative bodies to ensure transparency in communications to minimise the risk of consumers being misled by representations on packaging about the recycling of soft plastics.”

More information is available on the ACCC’s public register


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 26 February 2023, the supermarkets assumed responsibility for the REDcycle stockpiles.

On 27 February 2023, REDcycle was declared insolvent and a liquidator was appointed.

On 7 March 2023, the Soft Plastics Taskforce, chaired by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, issued a Roadmap to Restart for the resumption of in-store collection. 

On 30 March 2023, the ACCC issued a draft determination proposing to grant authorisation for 12 months.