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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Plastic Police steps up its planet rescue plan

Newcastle-based environmental gurus Plastic Police will enter its second stage of saving the planet, thanks to a $134,500 funding boost from the EPA.

The support secured earlier this month means schools and businesses in the region can now benefit with additional on-hand recycling advice.

Plastic Police is a community engagement program whose aim is to manage soft plastic packaging waste.

Its founders Lexi Crouch and Samantha Cross were one of a number of businesses and individuals who will share in a total of $2.5 million in grants as part of the NSW EPA Circulate Industrial Ecology Program.

Plastic Police sustainability project coordinator Lexi Crouch said the funding would allow the pair to increase the size of its audience.

“This funding will help us tackle the soft plastic waste problem through education and circular solutions,” Ms Crouch said.

“We’re excited to help more organisations and communities reduce, recycle and repurchase their soft plastic.”

The Plastic Blueprint is a digital platform enabling businesses to access a step-by-step guide, resources and tools needed to implement an effective soft plastics reduction and recycling program within their organisation.

It is based on the pair’s five years of learning and experience.

The blueprint was trialled on the John Holland group earlier this year, with 350 kilograms of soft plastic being converted into Central Coast roads.

The Plastic Police Starter Pack for Schools, including educational resources, offer schools more than 30 ways to reduce soft plastic waste at school.

“Answers to questions like, what is soft plastic? What can (and can’t) be recycled? Where can I recycle it?” Ms Crouch said.

“The packs teach how to encourage positive behaviour changes, how to collect data and record how much soft plastic the school saves from landfill and how schools can turn waste into a resource.

John Holland paves the way with recycled roads, Plastic Police.

“We’ve seen schools turn waste into a bench seat, garden bed or playground activities and this is just the start.”

Ms Crouch said the John Holland group and Lendlease had already been taken part in the group’s program, with Lendlease recently converting 700kg of soft plastic taken from the 30,000 Bankwest Stadium seat covers into asphalt.

“We’re hoping to help more infrastructures like this learn how to close the loop on soft plastic waste,” she said.