The Australian regulator’s move comes in the wake of REDcycle announcing its decision to suspend a return-to-store, soft plastics recovery initiative


ACCC issues a conditional interim authorisation to major supermarkets to become a part of a soft plastics taskforce. (Credit: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay)

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that key supermarket retailers in Australia will form part of a soft plastics taskforce for studying solutions to address the immediate effects of the suspension of a return-to-store soft plastics recovery programme by REDcycle.

The regulator’s announcement comes after issuing a conditional interim authorisation.

Recently, Woolworths, Coles, and ALDI lodged an urgent application for interim authorisation, revealed the ACCC.

ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said: “We have moved quickly to approve the interim application as the suspension of the REDcycle programme stopped in-store collections of soft plastic, raising community concerns and an urgent need to address the environmental risk of the existing stockpile and future waste.”

The regulator said that the authorised supermarkets can involve in meetings of the soft plastics taskforce, which will take into account, and look to develop and implement, a short-term solution for soft plastics’ storage, transportation, processing, recycling, along with their possible management.

The soft plastics taskforce is a unit led by the industry, which will be chaired initially by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Keogh said: “The ACCC expects the applicants to resolve this situation urgently and has placed a number of reporting conditions on them to ensure we are informed of their progress. This will aid us in determining our final decision on the application, as well as whether the interim authorisation should be revoked.”

The ACCC’s interim authorisation will continue until it is cancelled or the application for authorisation is withdrawn, or till the date the regulator’s final ruling comes into effect.

The Australian regulator expects to start a public consultation process soon.

REDcycle has been the return-to-store, soft plastics recovery programme in Australia since 2011. It had been useful in enabling the collection and processing of soft plastics into a range of durable recycled plastic products.

The industry-led programme was developed and undertaken by the RED Group, a consultation and recycling organisation. Earlier this month, REDcycle said that it was suspending the soft plastics collection initiative as its recycling partners had put a hold on accepting and processing soft plastics.