Frequently Asked Questions

What is Plastic Police®?

Plastic Police® is a local community engagement program to collect, recycle and reuse soft plastics, keeping it out of landfill and the environment. With your help, the program aims to turn the collected material into useful products that can go back to the local community. It is a circular economy initiative that aims to ‘close the loop’ on end-of-life soft plastics.

What are soft plastics?

Soft plastics are those plastics that can be scrunched in your hand, and include items such as plastic sleeves, plastic bags, plastic wrap, product packaging and postage bags.

What can I recycle through Plastic Police®?

Plastic Police® is a soft plastics recycling program. Soft plastics are those plastics that can be scrunched in your hand, and include items such as plastic sleeves, plastic bags, plastic wrap, product packaging and postage bags. Soft plastics recycled through the program must be clean, dry and free from contaminants such as food, paper and hard plastics. For a comprehensive list on what can and cannot be recycled through Plastic Police® view the Plastic Police® Recycling Guide.

What difference am I making by recycling my soft plastics with Plastic Police®?

Soft plastics have low rates of recycling and can’t be recycled in your kerbside recycling bin. This means most soft plastics currently end up in landfill or as litter, where they can ‘break up’ into smaller plastic pieces that can cause environmental pollution, harm wildlife and enter the food chain. Plastic Police® provides an opportunity to recycle soft plastics into useful products. We are passionate about educating and inspiring communities and organisations to rethink their waste and reduce their use of single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, for the environment.

Why can’t I recycle other materials through Plastic Police®?

If plastics are contaminated with other materials, we won’t be able to recycle the plastic into useful products for the community. If you happen to see contamination, kindly remove it and dispose of it responsibly.

What happens to the soft plastics?

Soft plastics are collected by our collection partner or participating councils where they are baled and stored until there is sufficient quantity for efficient transport to our reprocessing partners to be recycled into new products in Australia. These products include outdoor furniture and asphalt. Plastic Police® measures the weight of soft plastics collected by each participant and provides full transparency on how and where soft plastics are recycled.

How much does it cost to recycle soft plastics?

Due to the impacts of China’s National Sword policy, there are fees for recycling soft plastics in Australia. To receive a quote on implementing the Plastic Police® program at your organisation, get in touch with us.

How does the program work?

Plastic Police® soft plastic recycling stations are placed within your organisation, school, council or project. Soft plastics are collected regularly and transported to our processing partners to be recycled into new and useful products for communities to enjoy. Participants close the loop on the soft plastics they generate by purchasing products made from soft plastics, such as outdoor furniture, bollards, signage, wheel stops, decking and asphalt. Plastic Police® provide regular reports so you have complete transparency on the volumes you generate and know exactly where it is recycled. We also provide education and training to help you reduce, reuse and recycle your soft plastics, so together we can create a more sustainable future – for our planet and ourselves.

How can I get involved?

Contact us and we’ll be in touch with information on how you can implement the Plastic Police® program at your organisation.

Can I recycle biodegradable or compostable bags through Plastic Police®?

No, biodegradable bags cannot be recycled through the Plastic Police® program. Plastic Police® accepts soft plastics, however biodegradable bags are made from plant-based materials.

Do I need to wash the soft plastic before recycling it?

No, not generally. If the soft plastic is clean and dry it can be placed straight into the stands. However, if the soft plastic is dirty, wet or contains food residue, please ensure it is cleaned and dry it before placing it into the stands.

How clean does the soft plastic need to be?

Please ensure soft plastics are free of any food residues such as crumbs, sauce or grease. Food residue can be removed by shaking any crumbs out of the plastic, wiping it over with a damp cloth or cleaning the plastic in warm soapy water. The soft plastic must be dry before being placed into the stands.

We are unable to accept soft plastics that are contaminated with raw meat or dairy. Soft plastics that have come into contact with meat or dairy will need to be washed and dried before being placed into the stands.

Why are only clean and dry soft plastics accepted?

If plastics are contaminated with food residue, we won’t be able to recycle the plastic into useful products for the community. Please ensure your plastics are clean and dry before placing them in the stands to reduce the occurrence of smells, pests and mould.

Do I need to remove paper stickers and labels from the soft plastic?

No. Small bits of paper such as price stickers or labels are fine to be left on the plastic. However, we ask that you please remove as much paper as possible to assist with processing.

What happens to the soft plastic once it is collected?

The amount of soft plastics generated by participating businesses and schools is recorded on collection and measured over time. We then work with you to look at ways in which the collected soft plastics can be turned back into products, such as bench seats. We are continuously researching new products and are interested in any requests or ideas for products that participants may have. The aim of the program is to reduce the amount of soft plastics generated, and to ‘close the loop’ on those soft plastics that are used by turning them into useful products for participants.

Can we purchase products made by soft plastics?

Yes, orders will need to go through Plastic Police® in the interim as we need to ensure that all the plastics we collect can be redirected for reprocessing in Australia. Our aim is to have the weight of the products being purchased offset by the weight of plastic we are collecting, thus achieving a closed loop solution.

If too much soft plastic is collected, will any of it go to landfill?

No. The soft plastic collected by Plastic Police® will not end up in landfill. We are working with participating businesses, schools and councils to ‘close the loop’ on the soft plastics generated by these organisations by turning it into useful products for those organisations. As long as we all work together to identify end uses for the plastics and reduce the generation of avoidable plastic waste, we will reach our goal of zero plastics to landfill.

Are the soft plastics collected shipped overseas?

No. The soft plastic collected by Plastic Police® is processed and turned into products locally here in Australia.

How does China’s National Sword Policy impact the Plastic Police® program?

From January 1 2018, China stopped accepting certain plastics and mixed paper waste for recycling if it exceeded a certain level of contamination. The ban does not affect the Plastic Police® program as the soft plastics collected are processed locally here in Australia. No soft plastics collected via the Plastic Police® program are shipped overseas.

How can I reduce waste at my business?

The Plastic Police® program is a community initiative developed by Cross Connections Consulting. Cross Connections Consulting is a waste management and sustainability consultancy that can help you understand your waste stream and identify solutions that can result in more cost-effective and sustainable outcomes. We help businesses to participate in the circular economy to achieve greater social, environmental and economic outcomes. To find out more on how you can reduce your business’ waste, contact us.

Is the Plastic Police® program available in my area?

The Plastic Police® program is currently operating in the Hunter and Central Coast regions and in some surrounding areas (including Sydney). Not from these areas? Get in touch and we will add you to our register and notify you when the program is available in your area.

Projects and councils within NSW are encouraged to get in touch to discuss opportunities to implement the program.

Can I drop off soft plastics to my council?

We are currently working with several councils in the Hunter and Central Coast regions, with more coming on board soon. Participating councils allow households and businesses to drop off soft plastics, which will be remanufactured into new products through the Plastic Police® program. Get in touch with us and we will let you know if your council is participating in the Plastic Police® program.

How much does it cost to participate in the Plastic Police® program?

There is fee to participate in the program and prices depend on the size of your organisation, anticipated volumes of soft plastics that may be generated and whether you require a collection service. As part of the program, we provide education and engagement to encourage and inspire employees to take action. In addition to social and environmental outcomes, the Plastic Police® program can help reduce landfill disposal costs. Get in touch and tell us about your organisation so we can discuss and provide a customised proposal quotation.