Hornsby Shire Council’s Community Recycling Centre (CRC) at Thornleigh has stopped accepting soft plastics, hard plastic and Styrofoam from those who reside outside the Local Government Area, due to the collapse of soft plastics recycler, Red Cycle. 

As of 27 January 2023, users of the recycling centre will need to prove they reside in Hornsby Shire Council by showing a copy of their New South Wales driver licence or rates notice. 

Quantity limits for residents of one normal shopping bag full of soft plastics (40cmx40cm bag) per week have also been put into place.

The new rules came into effect as of Friday 27 January 2023

The change comes off the back of the November 2022 closure of Red Cycle, which collected soft plastics from Coles and Woolworths. 

With the close of this service, councils and residents across Sydney are struggling to find alternative collection services for their soft plastics as they try to maintain their recycling practices.

Due to the scarcity of alternative collection systems in Sydney, Council’s CRC, which has a viable soft plastics recycling service, has faced an unprecedented spike in users of the facility. 

The quantity of soft plastics has more than doubled since November 2022 and based on the increasing trend, it is estimated the CRC facility will accept around 50-80t of soft plastic material over the next 12 months.

Council has established a strong partnership with Plasmar, a plastics recycling specialist, which sorts soft plastics, pelletises them and then makes a broad range of products including posts, boards, sleepers, bollards, wheel stops and other construction materials. 

Plasmar’s Sydney factory has a limited capacity to accept soft plastics generated by our community and, with the rapidly increasing demand on its services, needs to urgently cap the quantities being accepted. 

Plasmar must ensure it only accepts quantities of soft plastics its manufacturing plant can process and that the products it produces can find resale markets to ensure a sustainable business.

Council says restricting the reception of soft and hard plastics and Styrofoam to residents of Hornsby Shire is the first step to ensuring the area’s recycling processes are not overwhelmed.

Residents from outside Hornsby Shire will no longer be able to drop off their soft plastics, hard plastics and Styrofoam at the Thornleigh CRC. Residents from outside the Shire should contact their local council to find out more about recycling services within their LGA.

Hornsby Shire Council Mayor, Philip Ruddock AO, has called on both the State and Federal Governments to do more to urgently address the soft plastics crisis.

“Both State and Federal levels of Government have Plastics Action Plans and it is critical that further funds are invested in recycling services that allow the sorting, processing and remanufacturing of our soft plastics into beneficial products that can be used in our circular economy,” Mayor Ruddock said.

“It is time that government looks to regulate the packaging industry and to heavily invest in the necessary remanufacturing facilities that can turn our waste into useful resources”.

Following on from the Global Recycling Crisis caused when China and other countries ceased accepting plastics from Western countries, it is critical that onshore recycling and remanufacturing capacity is developed to ensure Australia’s waste does not need to be exported again.

“If our recycling systems are going to meet community demand, State and Federal Governments must invest in the rapid expansion of soft and hard plastics sorting and remanufacturing facilities such as Plasmar’s,” Mayor Ruddock said.

Users of the CRC from outside the Hornsby Shire LGA will no longer be able to drop off their soft plastics, hard plastics and Styrofoam at the facility. However, they are still welcome to bring other materials for recycling including cardboard, paint and e-waste.

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