What if used plastic wrappers became a resource, not a waste?
This vision is within reach.
Soft plastics make easy effective packaging that keeps our food clean, safe and fresh - but they are challenging to recycle at scale, meaning too much ends up in landfill.
A group of companies have worked together to show that soft plastics can be a resource, not waste. They have brought their individual expertise to the challenge of producing a KitKat wrapper that is Australia’s first soft plastic food wrapper made with recycled content – showcasing Australia’s opportunity to close the loop on recycling soft plastics.
The KitKat wrapper is made with 30% recycled polypropylene using the mass balance approach.
The soft plastics gap
While rigid plastics made from recycled content are available, the lack of both collection and processing infrastructure in Australia for soft plastic makes it difficult to keep waste out of landfill and impossible to meet demands for packaging with recycled content.
This means that using food grade recycled soft plastic packaging is not possible without importing the packaging – which does not contribute to helping Australia’s bid to improve waste management and build a circular economy.
Collection trial underway
The initiative to create the KitKat prototype emerged from a trial underway on the NSW Central Coast, where iQ Renew, CurbCycle and Nestlé are working together on a trial of kerbside collection of soft plastics.
So how can we turn a plastic wrapper back into a plastic wrapper?
Soft plastic wrappers can be turned back into soft plastic wrappers using advanced recycling techniques.
This video explains how the process works – all the way from a wrapper being put in a bag and going out with the kerbside recycling, through to being made into plastic film again.
Today, this recycling is a vision as it requires infrastructure that Australia does not yet have at scale.
But it's within reach.
To bring it to life, we all need to think what's possible.
Who made the prototype wrapper possible?
The prototype KitKat wrapper has been created by a coalition of companies with a shared vision:
- REDcycle and CurbCycle, collected households’ soft plastic waste, some from REDcycle in store bins and some from the Curby Program kerbside collection trial conducted with the Central Coast Council
- iQ Renew received and sorted the collected soft plastics to create a processed engineered feedstock
- Licella converted the plastic to oil using their Australian-developed Cat-HTR™ advanced recycling technology
- Viva Energy Australia refined the synthetic oil
- LyondellBasell made food grade polypropylene
- Taghleef Industries created a metalized film
- Amcor printed and created the wrapper
- And finally, Nestlé wrapped the KitKat – keeping it fresh and safe to eat.
Between them, REDcycle, CurbCycle, iQ Renew, Licella, Viva Energy Australia, LyondellBasell, Taghleef Industries, Amcor and Nestlé brought their individual expertise to bear to collect and process waste soft plastic, turn it back into oil, and create the prototype wrapper.
Nestlé’s vision is that none of our packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfill or as litter.
We are committed to making 100% of our packaging recyclable or reusable. In addition, we are committed to reducing our use of virgin plastics by one third in the same period.
Most plastics are difficult to recycle for food packaging, leading to a limited supply of food-grade recycled plastics. To create a market, we are investing CHF 2 billion to lead the shift from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled plastics.
More information is available here: https://www.nestle.com/csv/impact/environment/packaging
How you can get involved
We all have a common aim to reduce packaging waste. Every piece of the value chain needs to be doing things differently if we are to have a better future for packaging waste in Australia. We all need to be better.
How can we work together to close the loop? Please contact us via [email protected] if you are interested in finding out more.
We will work with the AFGC to bring interested parties together to outline next steps for the future of soft plastic recycling.
Have a break, have a KitKat
Nutritional & Packaging Information:
Allergens: Contains Milk, Soy and Wheat. May Contain Tree Nuts.