First steps in soft plastics initiative

16 March 2023


Continuing the theme of emerging contaminants, and especially plastics, we note that Australia’s largest supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, were recently issued with a clean-up notice by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The purpose of the notice was to manage the recycling and lawful removal of more than 5200 tons of soft plastic that had been stockpiled across the state.


Both Coles and Woolworths are willingly working with the EPA to address safety concerns. A revised notice has now been issued to the supermarket giants that requires the soft plastics be removed from their current location to an appropriate site within seven weeks. The supermarkets also have 12 months to produce a solution which will determine the future of the materials.

NSW EPA Chief Executive Officer Tony Chappel said the EPA and the supermarkets are committed to ensuring that the material is to be recycled, with landfill dumping being the very last resort. Whilst this seems like a daunting proposition, large opportunities are on the horizon to improve the collaboration around new solutions to address problematic waste streams. It is a positive first step to have government-industry cooperation towards overcoming these sustainability challenges.

The NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy and NSW Plastics Action Plan demonstrate this commitment, with $356 million being invested to support the transition towards a more circular economy.

For more information visit EPA NSW.