Wednesday, June 19, 2024

ACCC proposes cooperation to continue on soft plastics recycling

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) proposes to grant authorisation with conditions for 12 months to allow the major supermarkets to continue collaborating on a short-term solution to manage the soft plastics stockpile and to facilitate the resumption of in-store collections for recycling.

A public consultation process on the draft determination will begin shortly.

The ACCC granted conditional interim authorisation to Coles, Woolworths and ALDI in November 2022, following REDcycle’s announcement it was suspending its return-to-store soft plastics recycling. The supermarkets, via the Soft Plastics Taskforce, released a Roadmap to Restart plan (link is external), which outlines its work to date and its roadmap over the next 12 months to manage the stockpile and resume collections.

“The REDcycle liquidation has provoked a lot of community concern and this proposed authorisation will allow the supermarkets to develop and implement a solution to potentially address the environmental risk of the existing stockpile of soft plastics and future waste,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh.

“We believe the authorisation will lead to public benefits such as the developing of interim solutions to be jointly funded by the supermarkets, the maximising the opportunities to divert soft plastics from landfill and ensuring clear and consistent messaging to consumers on the resumption of in-store collections.”

“Given our proposed authorisation is for 12 months, the supermarkets would need to apply for authorisation for any longer-term solutions,” Mr Keogh said.

The ACCC may grant an authorisation for any conduct that could raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act when it is satisfied that the likely public benefit from the conduct outweighs any likely public detriment.

“We are proposing to grant authorisation with conditions to ensure there is continued transparency on the progress of the roadmap and that the public are kept up to date,” MrKeogh said.

The interim authorisation remains in place and will continue until it is revoked, the application for authorisation is withdrawn, or the date the ACCC’s final determination comes into effect.

“Separate to this authorisation application, the ACCC continues to engage with industry stakeholders and representative bodies to ensure clarity and transparency in communications so as to minimise the risk of consumers being misled by representations on packaging about the recycling of soft plastics,” Mr Keogh said.

More information is available at accc.gov.au.

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