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A group of companies have collaborated to create a KitKat wrapper made partially with recycled soft plastic content, in what is claimed as an Australian first.
Nestlé, CurbCycle, iQ Renew, Licella, Viva Energy Australia, LyondellBasell, REDcycle, Taghleef Industries and Amcor brought their individual expertise together to collect and process waste soft plastic, turn it back into oil and create the prototype wrapper.
Food-grade recycled soft plastic is often considered the key towards improving waste management and building a circular economy. However, a lack of both collection and processing infrastructure has made it difficult to keep waste out of landfill and to meet demands for packaging with recycled content.
The companies said turning soft plastic back into oil is the only path soft plastic waste can take if it is to be transformed into a food-safe wrapper: technology that Australia does not yet have at scale.
The initiative emerged from a trial underway on the NSW Central Coast, where Australian recycler iQ Renew and Nestlé are working together on a trial of kerbside collection of soft plastics. These collected plastics, together with plastics collected via the REDcycle supermarket soft plastic collection, formed the starting point for the project.
Sandra Martinez, CEO of Nestlé Australia, said the project had been driven by a shared determination to resolve the soft plastics challenge — and an enormous amount of goodwill.
“Between us, we have shown that there’s a pathway to solve the soft plastics problem. To build this at scale, across all states and territories, across hundreds of councils, is going to take a huge effort from government at all levels, from industry and from consumers,” Martinez said.
“Manufacturers like Nestlé will have a key role in driving demand for food-grade recycled soft plastic packaging, and creating market conditions that will ensure all stakeholders throughout the value chain view soft plastics as a resource and not waste.”
Currently, soft plastics collected in Australia have been made into products like outdoor furniture, added to road base or used in waste-to-energy.
Danial Gallagher, CEO of iQ Renew, said that to improve the recycling rate of soft plastics, kerbside collection is an important point of convenience.
“In the trial, soft plastics are collected from kerbside recycling bins in a dedicated bright yellow bag, then sorted from the recycling stream at our MRF,” he said.