Return to store

Many items we purchase at supermarkets have packaging on them saying return to store - this is besides the plastic bags that were supposed to be recycled. This gives the impression that the manufacturer is in some way environmentally responsible and the supermarkets are also caring. It is about time we called this out as a practice and insist on all packaging being properly recyclable or compostable.

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Hi @Ross14 , welcome to the community and your first post.

Your comments are somewhat covered in this existing thread…

What you have raised is the lag between label or packaging creation and changes in the waste management industry.

The Australian Recycling Label (ARL) for return to store was when Redcycle was in operation. Redcycle has ceased operations and currently there isn’t a supermarket soft recycling program in place. The industry is trying to find alternative recycling solutions for soft plastics and it is possible a ‘return to store’ program may recommence in the future. In the interim, if one doesn’t have an alternative, local soft plastic scheme, unfortunately soft plastics will be disposed of in the general waste stream.

My interpretation is that @Ross14 was stating the opinion that businesses should all take full responsibility for all of the packaging they foist on the rest of us, rather than that he was wondering why the packaging still has the RedCycle-era note about returning to store.

I agree entirely that responsibility for processing and recycling plastics ultimately rests with the businesses selling pre-packaged goods. Had they been taking the responsibility seriously, they would have done more to ensure that RedCycle could do and was doing what it was meant to do. The impression is that they handed the plastics and the responsibility to RedCycle and washed their hands of it - until the fact that it was going nowhere could no longer be concealed.

Agreed! Perhaps we can force the issue by all obligingly doing as the outdated packaging says - return to store. :wink:


There are National Packaging Targets which have been adopted by the current government.

The four Targets are:

  • 100% of packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025
  • 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted by 2025
  • 50% of average recycled content included in packaging by 2025
  • The phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025.

However, it seems the current government, even though has adopted these targets, is going around in circles. They have recently announced that they will (again) go out for consultation to see what consumers think. :rage: The cynical side of me thinks the additional consultation is because the government has not being driving change and the targets wont be met. The proposed consultation allows the government to be seen to be doing something, even if it is treading water to buy time.

While ensuring all packaging is recyclable and compostable is admirable, it would only result in the current level of packaging getting worse. Avoiding any packaging should be the primary target, and where packaging can’t be avoided, then to ensure any used is recyclable and compostable.

A good example is fruit and vegetables. There is a growing trend that F&V should no longer be loose, but packaged in one or two levels of plastic. Such packaging is unnecessary as the F&V is naturally packaged (in skin). Possibly the only packaging uses for F&V is those which are also sold cut and leak (melons are a good example).

I recently raised this at a BBQ and was surprised by the number who prefer their F&V packaged in one or more layers of packaging. The common excuse seemed to be they didn’t want others to touch their F&V before buying for some health or safety reason… even though the risks lie through the growing of the produce. Like bottled water, consumers are being falsely conditioned that packaged F&V is better than loose.

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Not something I suspect parliament is actively encouraging. Retail marketing is the root cause.
Should we ban retail marketing and advertising? It is something parliament could act on. Problem solved. :wink:

Not a recent problem. Choose any of the previous recent gaggle of PM’s and ask which way the electoral weather vane pointed in their electorates?

RedCycle’s problem was too few processors and no market for the end product. A fire in one facility and the whole system ground to a halt. Raw material continued to be stockpiled at a cost which broke them.

If there was a lucrative market, the fire affected facility would have been rebuilt quickly, if not usurped by a competitor. Sadly there was no market and the whole system fell into a hole. I agree that the packaging / retail industry should take some ownership of the problem.

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