IKEA's soft plastic recycling service is not what you think it is

Hopes of solution to recycling issue dashed.

If you found your rubbish bin overflowing since the collapse of REDcycle, you might've considered taking a trip to your nearest IKEA to use the retailer's soft plastic recycling service.

Unfortunately, as Yahoo News can reveal, it's not the solution you were hoping for.

When an Aussie TikToker who posts tips on reducing waste was recently asked how she recycles soft plastics now that REDcycle stations are no longer at Woolworths or Coles, she highlighted what she thought was a similar service offered by IKEA.

"Here's what you can recycle at IKEA," she captioned the video. The clip shows four bins at the back of an IKEA store, one for cardboard, one for batteries, a third for light bulbs and last but not least, a bin for soft plastics. "Give your waste a second chance," signage on the wall reads.

IKEA recycling disposal area
IKEA stores purport to offer recycling of multiple materials, including soft plastics. Source: TikTok/@ecocat

"You can recycle paper, cardboard, batteries, globes and plastics in all of our stores," a knowledge article on the IKEA website states. A further breakdown of materials that can be recycled includes "hard and soft plastics". The site also explains that the recycling disposal area is located in each IKEA store near the exit and after the checkouts.

Aussies unknowingly using defunct service

When questioned about their recycling scheme, an IKEA spokesperson told Yahoo News that despite a soft plastics disposal area still existing in stores, the service is no longer available for customers.

"We work with a third-party supplier to recycle the soft plastics waste generated by our own operations," the spokesperson said. "While some stores have trialled this service for customers, at this time there are no plans to maintain this service going forward."

Regarding the page on IKEA's website that encourages people to recycle soft plastics at their Australian stores, the spokesperson confirmed the information is inaccurate.

"Thank you for bringing this to our attention, the information on this webpage is outdated and our team are currently updating the website to reflect our recycling offering," the spokesperson said, adding: "IKEA Australia stores do not offer soft plastic recycling."

Soft plastics bound for landfill

Australia's only other soft plastic recycling scheme, REDcycle, collapsed in November after an investigation by The Age revealed the company had been secretly stockpiling soft plastics people had dropped off at Coles and Woolies.

In an update posted to REDcycle's Facebook page just last week, the operators of the program said that while they appreciate some consumers have been saving soft-plastic waste in anticipation of the company's relaunch, this would just overburden the program if it ever resumes and any plastics people have been storing "would have to go to landfill".

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