No extension on deadline to move high-risk soft plastic stockpiles

Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe MLC, has welcomed that the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has maintained its position that Australia’s major retailers, Coles and Woolworths, will not receive more time to move high-risk soft plastic stockpiles.

The EPA has requested that Coles and Woolworths must move stockpiles of soft plastics from 8 high-risk sites by 12 May 2023 as per the deadline in the original notices.

The retailers have been granted an extension for the removal of stockpiles at 7 sites classified as “low-medium” risk.

Coles and Woolworths have had ten weeks to eliminate the potential fire and pollution risk posed by the stockpiling of about 5200 tonnes of soft plastic after being served final Clean-up Notices. This decision strikes the right balance between reducing risk and being practical to fix the problem.

The retailers must also work on developing a lawful solution for the materials.

Quotes attributable to NSW Minister for Environment Penny Sharpe:

“Householders want to recycle. That’s why so many people took the time to collect their soft plastics and take it back to Coles and Woolworths. They thought they were doing the right thing.

“Coles and Woolworths have to act to fix the community safety risks, particularly the risk of fire.

“Once the immediate risks are removed, the Government will shift to working with industry on long-term sustainable solutions for plastic packaging.

“Customers were diligent in recycling soft plastic and have been let down.

“It is my expectation that the retailers do everything they can to recycle as much stock as possible to restore customer confidence, and that is the message I am taking to the major supermarkets.”