Introducing Australia's first recycled soft plastics food wrapper

By Lucy Jones 23 March 2021

A group of companies working together to close the loop on soft plastics recycling have developed a prototype of the country's first food-grade recycled soft plastic packaging.

In what's surely the most exciting chocolate wrapper related news since Willy Wonka's golden tickets, KitKat has unveiled a wrapper made from recycled soft plastics. This is the first time that used soft plastics have been converted into food safe soft plastic packaging in Australia.

The wrapper is the prototype of a closed loop soft plastics recycling process developed by Nestlé, CurbCycle, iQ Renew, Licella, Viva Energy Australia, LyondellBasell, REDcycle, Taghleef Industries and Amcor. What this means in simple terms is, these companies have figured out how to turn soft plastic food packaging back into soft plastic food packaging.

Previously, it was not possible to develop food-grade recycled soft plastics due to lack of collection and processing infrastructure in Australia. However, this trail shows that with the right systems in place, it is possible.

"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, but I think it can be done," Sandra Martinez, CEO of Nestlé Australia, 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."

The prototype was made using soft plastics collected through RedCycle and a kerbside collection trail run by recycler iQ Renew.

“To improve the recycling rate of soft plastics, kerbside collection is an important point of convenience,” Danial Gallagher, CEO of iQ Renew, said.

“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."

"To create the KitKat wrapper with 30 per cent recycled content, the soft plastics were processed, then sent to Licella for conversion back into the oil from which they originally came. This oil was then used to produce new food grade soft plastics.”

A consortium of companies including Nestlé, Coles, Licella, and iQ Renew are conducting a feasibility study to determine the technical, environmental and economic benefits of establishing an advanced recycling industry in Australia. The study will explore potential sites for an advanced recycling facility in Victoria where soft plastics could be given a second life.

Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 

Lucy Jones
Lucy started her career working as a writer and editor in print and digital publishing. She went on to create content for Australia's leading sustainable fashion platform while completing her Master of Cultural Studies. Lucy spends her downtime at the beach, crocheting and hanging out with her cat Larry. She believes words can change the world and is stoked to help Planet Ark spread the message of positive environmental change.