Multi-national company Nestlé and Australia-based recycling firm iQ Renew have launched a trial that aims to collect soft plastics from more than 100,000 homes through kerbside recycling and diverted from landfill.

Due to growing consumer demand for better recycling, the trial intends to find a method to collect, sort, and process soft plastics that can then be broadly used.

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According to iQ Renew CEO Danial Gallagher, there is opportunity in converting soft plastic from a waste to a resource, as soft plastics comprise 20% of the volume of Australian household landfill bins and are also frequently found incorrectly placed in recycling bins.

Gallagher said: “Most material recovery facilities 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.

“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.”

Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez said that the firm intended to find sustainable approaches to recycle packaging.

Martinez said: “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.

“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 begin with a pilot of 2,000 households and then expanded to more than 100,000 households later in the year. Under this project, around 750 tonnes of soft plastic will be processed which otherwise would have been sent to landfill.

Locations for the trial are currently under consideration.