WASTE NOT: Shawn O'Rourke with the soft plastics processed by Coffs Harbour Paper and Oil
WASTE NOT: Shawn O'Rourke with the soft plastics processed by Coffs Harbour Paper and Oil Rachel Vercoe

Join the war on waste

CHIP packets, fresh produce bags, bubble wrap and even cereal packets; it's horrifying to think about all the soft plastics we throw in our red bins because they can't be collected for recycling. But help is at hand for those who care.

A perhaps little known fact is that a local business is helping ease the amount of plastics going into landfill by collecting these soft plastics which are later given a new life as things like park benches and playground equipment.

And Coffs Harbour Paper and Oil are willing to accept your rubbish.

Manager Shawn O'Rourke said it's as simple as collecting your soft plastics and dropping them off at their Toormina depot.

"We package it all up and send it to Visy and Orora; their factories process it but a lot of it also ends up being sent to China because the products it gets manufactured into aren't in as high demand here.”

Shawn said the ABC's War on Waste programme has resulted in a lot of local mums and dads wanting to recycle their household soft plastics, which he said is an encouraging sign.

"We don't do bins for domestic clients at this stage, but if there was enough support we would consider it; our problem is we have to charge for collection, we can't pick up small quantities for free.”

Coffs Harbour Paper and Oil already collects soft plastics from local supermarkets, and Shawn said most of the Coles, Woolworths and IGA supermarkets from Toormina to Woolgoolga will take customers' soft plastics for recycling.

But Shawn said there are a few rules we need to abide by.

"You can't bring anything which is a multi-use product, like post pouches with bubble-wrap and paper because that has to be separated,” he said.

"We do paper and cardboard, but that needs to be separate, basically when it comes to soft plastics we don't want food scraps or general rubbish; there's not an awful lot of things you can't reuse - if it scrunches and springs back it's able to be recycled.”

"Just give it a quick rinse, that's all. It doesn't have to be perfectly clean, but the plastic baskets can sit here for six months before I get enough to send off, so it can get smelly.”

Shawn would also like to see more blueberry farmers bringing their greenhouse waste to the site.

Coffs Harbour Paper and Oil is located at 24 Hulberts Rd, Toormina and is open Monday to Friday 7am to 3pm or other times by arrangement.

What can be processed?

Biscuit packets

Bread bags (without the tie)

Bubble wrap

Fresh produce bags

Frozen food bags

Green bags (Polypropylene Bags)

Ice cream wrappers

Large sheets of plastic that furniture comes wrapped in

Cereal box liners

Chip and cracker packets (silver lined)

Chocolate and snack bar wrappers

Cling Wrap - free of food residue

Confectionery bags

Dry pet food bags

Netting citrus bags

Newspaper and magazine wrap

Pasta bags

Plastic Australia Post satchels

Snap lock bags / zip lock bags

Squeeze pouches with lid on

Plastic containers

Plastic bottles - all types please remove the lids

Any rigid plastic such as meat trays, biscuit trays or strawberry punnets

Plastic film wrap from grocery items such as nappies and toilet paper

Rice bags

Plastic used in greenhouses on farms

Fertiliser bags also known as 1 ton bags

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