A Sydney council is receiving high praise after a brand new kind of bin mysteriously appeared in the garage of an apartment block this week.
"This just turned up in my apartment garage," a resident posted online alongside a photo of a "Resource Recovery Hub", which has dedicated holes for everything from batteries and e-waste, right through to X-ray films and yes, soft plastics.
"Well done Randwick Council!" they continued.
"This is awesome!" responded a fellow Sydneysider on Reddit, equally enthusiastic about the new environmental initiative. "Amazing," echoed another. "The way forward. Hope we see these around the nation soon."
The sentiment is understandable too. Although Aussie households have long been able to drop off things like batteries and e-waste at dedicated collection points for recycling, a council providing a regular residential collection service for such waste is completely unheard of — until now.
What's even more novel is the residential soft plastic collection. That's because for most Australians, soft plastics have been effectively un-recyclable ever since the demise of soft plastics recycler RedCycle in November 2022.
How the new bins work
Speaking with Yahoo News Australia about the new bins, Randwick City Council Mayor Dylan Parker said they were part of a new trial program that's initially rolling out to 12 apartment buildings.
"With the need to recycle at an all-time high and the community's need for convenience, these resource recovery hubs have been installed in a select few locations with the aim of capturing hard-to-recycle materials for a trial period," Mayor Parker said.
"Problem waste such e-waste, printer cartridges, plastic bags and batteries can be deposited in the hub to be collected and taken to Randwick Recycle Centre where the items will be recycled," he continued. "A total of eight hubs have been installed so far with another four to come.
"Randwick Council is committed to providing sustainable solutions to our residents that makes recycling a no-brainer that can be enjoyed by everyone, even those who are time-poor.”
Locally recycled soft plastics receive 'new lease on life'
Indeed, the council has actually been accepting soft-plastic waste for recycling since February 10, when they first announced a partnership with local recycler Plasmar. That partnership means Randwick residents have been able to drop off soft plastics at the Matraville Recycling Centre for collection for a number of months now.
The plastics are then picked up by Plasmar and taken to their recycling facility, where they are turned into pellets and recycled into practical products for use around the community like wheel stops, posts and bollards.
Amazingly, Council then buys these products back from Plasmar, creating a circular economy that sees locally recycled soft plastics receive a "new lease on life" in the actual communities they were collected from. "This is a great example of local government taking the lead and providing a local solution to a national problem," Mayor Parker said when the scheme was introduced.
"When RedCycle stopped collecting soft plastics across the country last year, it created a huge problem and has resulted in increased waste in people's red bins and more material going to landfill. I'm very pleased we've been able to find a solution and to help our residents do the right thing by the environment.
"Hopefully a program like this might be able to be expanded for use in other council areas and across the state as our country tackles the challenging issue of soft plastic recycling."
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