Curby Soft Plastic Recycling In Australia – A Complete Guide

Curby Soft Plastic Recycling In Australia


With the rising interest in recycling or reducing usage of plastics, some companies are stepping up to take action, one of these companies is Curby. But who are Curby and what do they do?

Curby is a company founded in New South Wales, Australia, by local community members who are passionate about preserving the environment through recycling targeted materials at home using the existing ‘yellow’ recycle bins provided by each Council. They are supported by some large companies including Nestlé and Nespresso Australia.


What Is Curby Soft Plastic Recycling?

Curby is a community organization in Australia with the mascot ‘Curby the Bilby’ to make the program more fun and enjoyable. The Curby program works to encourage Australians to recycle targeted plastic at home through the Council-provided yellow bins.

Materials that Curby encourages Australians to recycle include soft plastic, coffee capsules, fabrics and others that can be diverted from landfill into valuable resources. So far, they have conducted two trials which have helped to build solutions and increase recycling rates.

Curby works with registered users of their app who have downloaded the QR code and use the tags and bags provided on sign up. Currently available in Central Coast Council, Mosman, Willoughby and City of Newcastle.

You can register your interest and undertake a survey to encourage your local Council to take part via their website


How Does Curby Soft Plastic Recycling Work?

The way that Curby’s soft plastic recycling program works is that people living in the eligible areas – Central Coast Council, Mosman, Willoughby and City of Newcastle – register with Curby and download the mobile application.

This means that when recycling, you can use your CurbyBags and CurbyTags provided when placing soft plastics in your yellow recycling bin. The program is as easy as three steps:

  1. Fill your bag with soft plastics – they must be clean!
  2. Compress the bag and tightly tie.
  3. Attach a CurbyTag.

Soft plastic must be in the bag and tagged to fall into this program. You then scan the QR code on the CurbyTag via the Curby app and put the bag into your recycling bin. You can then be rewarded with CurbyPoints and track your contributions to recycling!


What Are Soft Plastics?

Soft plastics are basically plastic types including polyethylene (PE) including high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), polypropylene (PP) and biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP).

They can also be scrunched into a ball. In Australia, they are typically labeled with ‘wrap’ or ‘bag’ and many will say they can be returned to store or rinsed and returned. Popular soft plastic types and uses include the following:

  • Chip bags
  • Cracker or biscuit wrappers/packets
  • Plastic liners or cling wraps
  • Bubble wrap or snap lock bags
  • Chocolate or icecream wrappers
  • Wrappers from frozen food or vegetables
  • Document sleeves/files and plastic post sachets
  • Carrier bags
  • Cellophane
  • Magazine wraps
  • Plastic bags and old reusable bags
  • Pasta or rice packets
  • Bread bags and cereal liners
  • Plastic pet food bags
  • Potting mix or compost bags
  • Fresh produce bags or netting produce bags.

Read more about the types of plastics in this blog.

Curby Plastics

What Are The Different Types Of Traditional Plastic?

Traditional plastic is all around us in our everyday lives, from the cutlery you receive at a takeaway to the bag you take your trash out in. Unfortunately, many types of plastic are not recyclable, compostable or biodegradable and its important to understand which types you are using and any available alternatives.

There are seven key types of traditional plastic, with the most popular being PET (polyethylene terephthalate) used for many plastic bottles and packaging. Other popular plastics are high- and low-density polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polystyrene and other resins. Some of these plastics are recyclable and some are not.

Plastics are classified in numbers from 1-7 which also helps identify their level of recyclability. 

  1. PET
  2. HDPE
  3. PVC
  4. LDPE
  5. PP
  6. Polystyrene
  7. Other resins.

Many products will have a number on the back or base of the product which indicates the type of plastic used to make the product. These will assist in understanding which products to avoid and which can be recycled and how. Many of your local recycling plants will have a list of product numbers that can be recycled.

Learn more about recyclable plastics here.


What Types Of Plastic Take The Longest Time To Breakdown?

Plastic breaks down at different rates based on the type, the materials it contains and its size and usage. This means that plastic can take between 20 years and 500 to break down into smaller particles which will never completely disappear even if they are unable to be seen.

Here are some products and the time they can take to breakdown based on where they are disposed of, any other materials inside or on (such as dye or additives):

–          Plastic bags can take around 20 years yet can be extremely harmful to wildlife including ocean life.

–          Coffee cups may take around 30 years and, as you can imagine, they are widely used globally and so contribute greatly to landfill.

–          Plastic straws may take up to 200 years which is why many countries are introducing legislation to get rid of plastic straws. They can also pose great risks for wildlife and ocean life.

–          Plastic bottles – such as spring water or soft drinks can take up to 450 years. Think about how widely used these are and the potential global impact of these! They can often be recycled, yet many people don’t bother to recycle.

–          Disposable nappies/diapers take a very long time to break down – around 500 years in many cases! They require oxygen AND sunlight to break down so don’t break down well in landfill. They can also contaminate groundwater.

–          Coffee pods and toothbrushes can also take up to 500 years which is why you will see more and more options for eco-friendly coffee pods and toothbrushes (think bamboo!) on the market.

Find out more about traditional plastics in this blog.

The Lifecycle of Plastics
Image courtesy of WWF – The Lifecycle of Plastics


Why Should You Recycle Soft Plastics?

Plastic is a well-known issue for our environment in so many ways! This includes:

  • Landfill contributions
  • Toxicity to wildlife
  • Choking hazard for marinelife
  • Toxicity to waterways and soil
  • Toxic residue and micro plastics left behind when breaking down.

Did you know that currently 85% of landfill is soft plastic? That could easily be reduced with recycling! Our oceans are also estimated to receive the equivalent of a whole garbage truck of plastics each minute.

To read more about these facts, visit Curby’s website. 


What Happens To The Plastic That Is Recycled? 

When you use Curby, the soft plastic is sent to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where they sort the plastics and send for processing/recycling. The company is working with some innovative solutions and companies on advanced recycling.

This means that the material is segregated into different streams so enable the creation of new plastic items such as hardwear plastics and a resource for advanced recycling which transforms plastic back into oil and chemicals. I.e. Back to its origins.

Soft plastic collected by Curby for its trials were tested as a feedstock for Cat-HTR(™) process at a pilot plant.

Find out more on Curby’s website. 


What Areas Is Curby Available?

Curby is currently only available in Australia, in four areas:

  • Central Coast
  • Mosman
  • Willoughby
  • Newcastle.

The program must be supported by the local Councils to run and is currently supported by IQ Renew, Nestlé and Nespresso Australia. It was developed by CurbCycle and they hope to expand across the rest of Australia and globally.

There are currently more than 19,693 members in the eligible areas.


How Can We Support Curby?

You can support Curby by downloading the Curby app to see if there are programs near you and receive notifications when they become available. You can also complete their survey to help bring Curby to a Council near you!

You can also follow Curby on their social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Visit Curby’s website for more information. 

Curby Soft Plastic Recycling App


Curby is a great initiative in Australia, offering community members a way to recycle soft plastics such as snack wrappers and bags by using Curby labels and bags. It’s easy to sign up via the app and take part if you live in an eligible area.

Curby diverts soft plastics from the landfill stream by providing recycling options. You can support Curby if they are in your area by registering for the program and taking part. If you’re not in any of the eligible areas, you can still register for the program and follow Curby on social media.

If you’re interested in learning more about reducing your environmental footprint, visit our website for more information and helpful blogs that cover everything from the types of plastic to composting and plastic alternatives.

You can start your journey to more environmentally-sound choices by learning more about your options today.



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