Industry Resources

National Plastics Recycling Scheme

A new path for soft plastic packaging in Australia 

Driven by Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing industry, the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS) will be Australia’s largest industry-led plastics recycling scheme, taking hard-to-recycle soft plastic packaging out of the waste stream and giving it new life.

As a true circular economy model, the NPRS makes it easier for people to recycle soft plastics at home and supports the development of a new, advanced recycling industry here in Australia to take that packaging and turn it back into new material, ready for reuse.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council is developing the NPRS with funding support from the Australian Federal Government’s National Product Stewardship Investment Fund.

The circular economy

Meeting Australia’s National Packaging Targets

The NPRS is a key plank of helping to meet Australia’s National Packaging Targets. By laying out a plan for plastics recycling from collection, through recycling and onto new end markets, the NPRS will help build a genuine circular economy for plastic packaging.

The Challenge

The NPRS aims to increase the amount of plastic recovered by 190,000 tonnes a year – that’s almost 38,000 five-tonne garbage trucks and one third of the soft plastic waste that currently goes to landfill each year.

This will be achieved through kerbside collection of soft plastics and expanded bring-back systems to create a clean stream of valuable materials to be recycled and remanufactured as new plastic packaging, ready to head back to the supermarket shelf.

How it works

  • The NPRS will collect soft plastic packaging, things like bread and cereal bags, frozen vegetable packets, confectionery wrappers and plastic toilet paper wrap.
  • As an industry-backed scheme, food and grocery manufacturers pay a small levy to support the cost of collection and administration.
  • Collection will be through an expanded kerbside collection program.
  • The bags are extracted from recycling streams at sorting facilities and sent for processing.
  • After being sorted, cleaned and shredded, separate soft plastic types are sent to advanced recycling facilities where high-tech processes break the plastic back down into oil – the same type of oil that plastic is made from in the first place.
  • That “plasticrude” oil is then ready to be made back into clean, food-grade plastic packaging.