City of Darebin: Flexible plastic kerbside recycling trial

Darebin City Council, MWRRG and Australian Packaging Covenant partnered with Sustainable Resource Use (SRU), Replas and SKM Recycling to conduct a 20 week trial of a practical approach to flexible plastic recycling. The trial tested whether kerbside recycling of plastic bags consolidated by the householder can overcome the two main barriers to recovery of flexible plastic products. The primary purpose of this trial was to test whether it is possible to overcome the barrier of ‘handling difficulty’ with a shift towards consolidation of multiple flexible plastic items into a single unit.

In this trial, 900 households within Thornbury (in the Darebin Council Area) were asked to store bags for collection each fortnight in their regular recycling collection. To overcome the barriers to recovery, householders were asked to consolidate their flexible plastics together into another bag. Householders from all collection zones were surveyed at the completion of the trial. This showed 69% of householders claimed to have participated in the trial.

Based on the results of this trial, providing bags to householders helps achieve a good participation rate in the short term. Householders who participated were asked if for recycling they would need the bag supplied in the longer term and 100% felt it would be possible to utilise their own bag once the system was established.

The profile of flexible packaging presented for recycling was assessed by collecting a sample of bags and analysing the contents by packaging type. The result showed a very broad packaging profile. Householder compliance was also positive with a very high quality of material disposed of through this system.

At the sorting facility, an additional two staff were positioned near the start of the sorting line to recover the bags and also to capture any other loose flexible packaging. The sorting line was operated at the usual speed in order to accurately test the sorting practicality. Sorting staff were able to identify and sort around 90% of the bags off the sorting line.

Project resources:

  • Flexible plastics MF R1 Final Report - Darebin Report 1.2 MB

    This final report outlines the findings, project highlights and recommendations for the Darebin City Council 'Feasibility trial of kerbside recycling of consolidated flexible plastics' project. This Metro Fund Round 1 project targeted household recycling of plastic bags in kerbside recycling bins.

Last updated: 20/05/2020