AUSTRALIA – Nestlé has announced a partnership with Australian recycler, iQ Renew in a trial which aims to see soft plastics collected from over 100,000 homes through kerbside recycling and diverted from landfill.

With increasing consumer demand for improved recycling, the food and beverage company said that the trial aims to find a way to collect, sort and process soft plastics that can be broadly adopted.

iQ Renew CEO Danial Gallagher noted that there is an opportunity in turning soft plastic from a waste to a resource. 

Soft plastics not only make up 20% of the volume of Australian household landfill bins, but are also frequently found incorrectly placed in recycling bins.

“Most Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) can’t separate soft plastic from other items in household recycling, so while soft plastic can be recycled, what we lack is a robust, scalable system to collect and process it using existing kerbside collection,” Mr Gallagher said.

“We’ve designed the trial so that at the front end, it will support householders to pre-sort their soft plastic and get it into a recycling stream, while behind the scenes, we’ll test using the sorted soft plastic as a resource in a range of different manufacturing processes,” he said.

While the partnership strengthens Nestlé’s commitment towards plastic recycling, Sandra Martinez, the CEO of Nestlé Australia said that the company wants to find sustainable paths to recycle packaging.

“While we are working to make all our packaging recyclable, we know that soft plastics is an area that needs greater focus and collaboration. We need to find ways to drive more recycling here,” Ms Martinez said.

“As Nestlé plans to reduce our virgin plastic use and increase the amount of food grade recycled plastic packaging we use, we need plastic to be collected.

“Given the low amount of soft plastic collected from consumers today, we hope this trial can unlock the significant potential for soft plastic packaging to become a resource.”

The project will commence with a pilot of 2000 households, with plans to expand to over 100,000 households later in the year.

The partnership will enable the companies to process around 750 tonnes of soft plastic that would otherwise be sent to landfill.

Nestlé has also committed to invest up to US$2.08bn to lead the shift from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled plastics and accelerate the development of innovative sustainable packaging solutions.

The company is also launching a US$259 million sustainable packaging venture fund to invest in start-up companies that focus on providing innovative packaging solutions including new materials, refill systems and recycling solutions.