The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has proposed to grant authorisation that could extend the collaboration of supermarkets in managing soft plastics stockpiles after the liquidation of the country’s industry-led recycling programme stockpiles after REDcycle.
The proposed authorisation with conditions will enable major supermarkets, including Coles, Woolworths and Aldi to continue partnering on a short-term solution for the soft plastics stockpile management and facilitate the resumption of in-store collections for recycling for 12 months.
These retailers received conditional interim authorisation in November last year after REDcycle suspended its return-to-store soft plastics recycling.
The programme was declared insolvent last month and a liquidator was appointed.
ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said: “The REDcycle liquidation has provoked a lot of community concern, and this proposed authorisation will allow the supermarkets to develop and implement a solution to potentially address the environmental risk of the existing stockpile of soft plastics and future waste.
“We believe the authorisation will lead to public benefits such as the developing of interim solutions to be jointly funded by the supermarkets, the maximising the opportunities to divert soft plastics from landfill and ensuring clear and consistent messaging to consumers on the resumption of in-store collections.
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“Given our proposed authorisation is for 12 months, the supermarkets would need to apply for authorisation for any longer-term solutions.”
In relation to the new proposal, the ACCC will hold a public consultation process on the draft determination shortly.
Meanwhile, the interim authorisation will continue to be effective.
Keogh added: “Separate to this authorisation application, the ACCC continues to engage with industry stakeholders and representative bodies to ensure clarity and transparency in communications to minimise the risk of consumers being misled by representations on packaging about the recycling of soft plastics.”
The supermarkets published plans for the relaunch of soft plastic recycling in Australia earlier this month through the Soft Plastics Taskforce.