The hard wrap on soft plastics - Greener’s Top 5 Plastic Pollution Positive Solutions



November 16, 2022

First came the stone age, then the bronze age and lastly, the iron age, and now we’re faced with the plastic age. So what’s the deal with hard and soft plastics?

There’s no denying plastic has made our lives much more convenient for storing and transporting foods, drinks, and water. In Australia alone, we use around 70 billion pieces of soft plastics, such as food wrappers, each year.

However, as tough as it can be to face… the plastic wrap you just opened for lunch saves your sandwich but pollutes the planet. 

But you’re here right? So it means you’re one step closer to doing the right thing and getting up to date on the plastic pollution situation.

So what’s the deal with hard and soft plastics?

The best way to know is by using the good old ‘scrunch test’. So when it comes to ‘hard’ plastics, think water bottles, shampoo bottles, ice cream containers etc can be recycled, but ‘soft’ plastics (chip packets, bread bags etc) will contaminate your recycling. 

Rule of thumb: if you can scrunch it into a ball in one hand, keep it out of your yellow recycling bin. 

The hard facts about soft plastics 

Some of plastic’s best assets (its durability and long-lasting life) are the things that cause problems in the environment.

Do you know your big old kerbside yellow recycling bin? They’re not friends with soft plastics.  

​​That’s because soft plastics don’t go in kerbside recycling bins, which means that they’re often thrown out with general waste and can end up in nature. 

So how can we do our bit to avoid soft plastics and help save our planet?

Just like the Earth survived human prehistory, there is hope for our future! It’s all about taking ACTION!

Right now, we can switch to eco-friendly alternatives, say NO to soft plastic and make better decisions when it comes to protecting our environment.

Here are our top 5 alternatives to soft plastic:

1. Buy bulk 

It doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that one of the biggest sources of plastic in our daily lives comes from the food we buy. 

Next time you’re planning to hit the supermarket, try rethinking grocery shopping and looking for ways to buy in bulk and without plastic packaging.

Hit up places like Scoop Wholefoods and Harris Farm that run the gamut in organic whole-food products. They have everything from grains and pastas to chocolates, grains and other staple foods we all use on a regular basis.

2. BYO Containers 

Zero waste shopping is a huge step in the right direction.

Just as Raw Bulkfoods online  and Naked Foods are also great places for bulk buying, they also make it easier for you to bring your own Tupperware containers and help reduce soft plastics.

3.Say ‘see ya’ to the bag

It’s a no-brainer! Just refuse plastic bags whenever practicable. 

Simply bring your own grocery bags as part of your routine. Start by bringing additional cloth bags for produce, like mushrooms and fruit.

Of course, that goldfish you just bought your kids will probably not survive the trip home without its plastic bag. But the avocados will …

4.Get clued up on recycling rules

News flash: the little recycling triangle on a plastic item does NOT automatically imply it is recyclable. It’s the number in the triangle that holds the key.

As a rule of thumb, codes 1 (PET), 2 (HD polyethylene) and 5 (polypropylene) get the tick and can be recycled via your recycling bin. 

And when it comes to the less friendly numbers (3,4,6 and 7), your best bet is to stay clear of purchasing products that are packaged in these all together and if you do purchase anything wrapped in these plastics, make sure you try to repurpose them..