Quantum physics? Canadian romance movie? A Will Smith meme?
No, more serious than that……soft plastics becoming entangled at a Materials Recovery Facility, more commonly known as a MRF!
It’s all very well for to “wishcycle*” and toss all soft plastics into your recycling bin, but this is no laughing matter for MRF operators.
Did you know that the majority of MRFs need to stop regularly, for up to an hour, to remove the soft plastics that have become entangled in the conveyor system? This is costly and can result in contaminated recycling streams.
MRFs are already doing it tough due to the China bans on receiving materials, plummeting commodity prices, health & safety risks and now COVID-19, which discourages workers to work closely together.
Pictured: Workers removing soft plastics that have been entangled in the screens at the MRF. (Photo credit to DNA Info Chicago)
Unless you live in Germany, Netherlands or Belgium, which have spent millions of dollars to retrofit their MRFs, please don’t place soft “scrunchable” plastics in the kerbside recycling bins. Australia, we need your help in order to solve this problem by recycling “scrunchable plastics” at the REDcycle drop-off bins located at the Woolworths and Coles retail stores.
There is another category of plastics known as “semi-rigid plastics” which encompass the range of heavier gauge pouches used for pet food, cereals and other food products.
These materials behave differently at a MRF because they aren’t as “scrunchable” and don’t cause entanglement. However, because they behave like a piece of light cardboard they’ll travel to the paper stream, and not follow the plastic bottles, trays, tubs and jars.
So how do we solve this problem?
Introducing Roll 'n' Recycle® - a certification focused on a new way of helping semi-rigid plastic packaging items reach the plastic container stream by converting them into a 3D item, so they can be sorted more easily.
So, this is also where we need your help; if you see the Roll 'n' Recycle® icon on plastic packaging, follow the instructions and use the included sticker to roll the pouch up to form a ‘9’ or a ‘6’ shape. You then place it in your household kerbside recycling bin and you can sleep well, knowing that you’re improving recyclability and reducing Entanglement. With some small changes in behaviour everyone can help to implement a new solution to an old problem! :)
For more information on how Roll ‘n’ Recycle works, visit our home page
* ”Wishcycle” is a term used in the recycling industry whereby people place things in the recycling bin ‘wishing’ it will get recycled but in actual fact, it won’t.