Big Bag Recovery Impacts

plastic recovered

CO2e reduction

landfill cost savings

circular economy jobs created

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Big Bag Recovery (BBR)?

Big Bag Recovery is the only Australian Government Accredited product stewardship scheme for plastic bags over 15 kg/l of contents (sacks and bulk bags). The program only includes recyclable bags that are woven polypropylene (wPP) and low density polyethylene (LDPE). The program allows for two sizes: sacks and bulk bags. Big Bag Recovery is bound to the terms of its accreditation. This includes a performance matrix and reporting. More information can be found on the Federal Government website.

Why was BBR created?

The program was created by Industry Waste Recovery with the support of Industry, all State and Federal Governments, and consumers to provide a way to prevent environmental harm from plastic packaging and in doing so allow Brand Owners to meet their Regulatory and Social obligations.

Do I have to join?

No. The scheme is voluntary.

What if I do not join?

You run the risk of not meeting your regulatory and social obligations. You place unfair risk on your customers and, your packaging may not have an appropriate end of life solution. The waste export ban for plastic starts July 2021. Under the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020, the Minister has the ability to name and shame nonparticipants.

Whose responsibility is it? “I’ve sold it, it’s not my problem”.

Under the National Environmental Protection Measure (used packaging) 2011. The responsible parties are the Brand Owner (importers of the bags) and Brand Owner (trademark) per the Act. The risk to your customer is up to $2,000,000 and 5 years imprisonment in some States for inappropriate disposal or environmental harm from these bags.

What does the National Environmental Protection Measure (used packaging) 2011 (NEPM) and the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 (RWR) have to do with me?

The NEPM and RWR Acts are the Federal regulatory instruments that Brand Owners must satisfy. The RWR also outlines the timeline for the banning of exports of plastics and other waste.

When does the ban kick in? What is mixed plastic? How does BBR help?

The export ban starts July 2021 for mixed plastics and for all other plastics July 2022. All plastic that is not pre-sorted is mixed plastic. BBR as a product stewardship scheme recovers the plastic prior to it entering the waste stream, preventing it for becoming mixed plastic. This means that while the BBR processing facilities are being built, BBR can export the plastic for offshore recycling after the July 2021 ban. Without BBR all bags would end up as mixed plastic. We also understand that Councils and Transfer Stations are unlikely to receive any waste they cannot process or sell.

The Federal Government under the Recycling Modernisation Fund is promoting $1B in new onshore facilities. We are seeing this firsthand with plants being built in every State to recycle the bags.

How much does it cost? Who pays?

Our pricing policy is a uniform pricing model based on recovery and program costs. BBR charges the responsible entity the Brand Owners on a license and recovery basis. Brand Owners may absorb the cost or pass this onto their consumer.

How are the bags collected? And where?

BBR have a National Collection Partner. They have the capacity to collect from every local government area in Australia.

Most of the bags will be collected directly from businesses (factories, farms, mines, etc). Additionally, Councils and community groups will provide drop off facilities similar to the Farm Waste Recovery model. These compounds will be serviced regularly and advertised where and when open. It costs the user nothing to drop these off as the cost is built into the stewardship fee.

What happens to the bags?

BBR through its National Collection partner and proposed proprietary facilities will have the capability to process all recovered plastic bags into reusable resin in Australia. This not only satisfies the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020, it also means resin pellets will then have the potential for new life products. Like floating evaporation discs, sound abatements and potentially advanced recycling for graphene (batteries). Industry Waste Recovery the owner of BBR currently has submissions in place to build its own processing facilities to recycling the bags into new life products.

What happens to non-BBR bags?

BBR will only collect bags that are part of the program. All other bags will not be collected. Non-BBR bags that arrive at drop off points will be advised to the Minister through his powers against ‘free riders’ and the bags may be returned to the Brand Owner for appropriate disposal.

What about old or legacy bags?

BBR will collect these and bill the brand owner directly for 12 months after the program launch. After that, only labeled bags will be collected by BBR.

What do I get for the program fee?

  • Federally Accredited Product Stewardship program
  • Program that meets requirements of the National Environmental Protection Measure (used packaging) – compliments the National Packaging covenant
  • Access to marketing and promotional material
  • National coverage including telephone and online booking for users
  • Reporting and auditability
  • Choice to pass on the cost to consumers
  • Regional drop off points, direct farm or business collections (where viable)
  • Packaging collected for recycling satisfying Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020
  • Strong environmental outcomes: definable CO2e reduction, $250m3 community saving for landfill diversion
  • Plastic not entering waterways or being unnecessarily burned on farms

Links to the Acts

National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011

Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020

Additionally, every State and Territory has waste policies and regulations. There are 15 different departments in total.