Coles Constructs Australia’s First Car Park Using Recycled Soft Plastics

November 11, 2020 Updated: November 11, 2020

As Coles celebrates National Recycling Week this week, it is pioneering the construction of a carpark made partly out of plastic bags and soft plastic packaging.

It is the first commercial construction project in Australia to use the technology. If used in commercial concrete projects across Australia, it has the potential to divert 105,000 tonnes of soft plastics from landfill each year.

Coles State Construction Manager Victoria Fiona Lloyd said in a media release the project would help repurpose approximately 900,000 pieces of soft plastic, to be used in the Coles carpark in Horsham, a regional city in western Victoria.

“As one of Australia’s largest food retailers, we know how important it is to support initiatives that help to close the loop with soft plastics.”

The supermarket partnered with Victorian recycled plastic manufacturers RED Group and Replas to install the concrete slab carpark with Polyrok—a sustainable alternative to aggregate minerals used in concrete, such as stone.

Soft plastics typically can’t be recycled in kerbside bins in Australia and are banned in most state and territory governments. They include grocery bags, bread bags, bubble wrap, plastic wrappers of products, and anything that has a soft plastic sheath.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans said Coles Horsham is leading the way on recycling soft plastics using Polyrok.

“There is huge potential and opportunity for infrastructure projects to help us build a more circular economy,” Evans said.

“This is why the Federal Government has prioritised the development of new national standards and guidelines to encourage the use of recycled content in roads and other projects.”

Polyrok is made from soft plastic packaging returned to special bins at Coles. The bins are coordinated by RED Group, a Melbourne-based recycling organisation which Coles has worked with to divert over 1.3 billion pieces of soft plastic from landfill since 2011.