Great news! Plastic Police® has launched a 3 month trial at the University of Newcastle! If you are a student or staff member at the University of Newcastle at the Callaghan Campus, you can now recycle your soft plastics on campus with Plastic Police®.
Soft plastics cannot be recycled through council kerbside collections in the Hunter region with only a small amount ending back at supermarket collections. As such most soft plastics end up in landfill or pollute our local land and marine environments.
The Plastic Police® program is an innovative program that engages communities to rethink and better manage soft plastic waste that is generated by households on a day to day basis. It is currently being piloted in the Hunter region and the UON is participating in a trial at our Callaghan Campus.
The University’s new Environmental Sustainability Plan has a specific target to achieve a 70% recycling rate for general solid waste generated across the University by 2021. This trial, if successfully and implemented, could assist the University’s in achieving its waste reduction goal and will help to contribute to behaviour change on campus.
The Plastic Police® program is a community initiative developed by Cross Connections Consulting. The UON has committed to undertake a 3 month trial to gauge the ability of students and staff to divert soft plastic from landfill.
Soft plastics are defined as any plastics that can be easily scrunched into a ball when crushed by hand. Typical items include; plastic bags, biscuit outer packaging (not the trays), lolly/ chocolate packets, shrink wrap, and bread and cereal packets. The trial has focused collection points across areas closest to where these items are used including the libraries, student accommodation and the Services building (Logistics).
At the end of the trial period the trial operations and diversion rates will be reviewed to ascertain the viability of the program’s implementation. As a wrap up a bench seat made totally from recycled soft plastics will be purchased and placed in the student accommodation precinct.
Where are the collection stands located?
There are 5 areas around campus where the collection stands are located:
What can I put in the collection stands?
You can dispose clean dry soft plastics in the collection stands. Soft plastics are defined as any plastics that can be easily scrunched into a ball when crushed by hand. Typical items include; plastic bags, biscuit outer packaging (not the trays), lolly packets, shrink wrap, and bread and cereal packets.
Can I bring in my soft plastics from home?
Yes. This is a community engagement program.
How is this program different to the “Be a Good Sort” program?
The “Be a Good Sort” program provides a recycling stream for paper & cardboard, and comingled recycling. As part of the “Be a Good Sort” program, soft plastics are placed in the general waste bin and sent to landfill. The Plastic Police® program will provide a recycling opportunity for soft plastics aiming to eliminate this waste stream.
Can we get a soft plastics recycling collection stand in our office/building?
If you see an opportunity for a soft collection stand to be placed in your office/building, please let us know. Each area will need to nominate an department champion / point of contact
What do I do if the collection bin is full?
If you see a bin that appears full or is overflowing push the soft plastics down to make room for more. A single Plastic Police® collection bag should capture around 1,000-1,250 pieces of plastic. When the bin can no longer be compacted to make room for more soft plastics call the project officer to replace the collection bag.
What happens to the soft plastics?
When full, the collection bags will be transferred to a central collection point to then be collected on a fortnightly basis by an approved program collection partner. The soft plastics will be baled and stored until the required volume has been collected to efficiently transport the material to a program processor to enable the waste to be converted into furniture to be purchased by the University.
How long does the trial run for?
The trial will run for three months, from May to the beginning of August 2018.
Is the program going to continue after the trial?
Dependent of the success of the trial, the Plastic Police® program is planned to continue once the trial is complete.
Do I need to clean the bags etc before I recycle them?
Yes - the soft plastics must be 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 collection stands.
We cannot 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.
Can I put biodegradable or compostable bags in the collection stands?
No, biodegradable or compostable bags cannot be recycled through the Plastic Police® program.
Who can I contact for more information?
Project: Emily Whitehead – Assistant Project Officer
or ext. 54012
Comms:Tegan Betts – IFS Engagement Officer