Soft Plastics

Soft plastics are flexible plastics that can be easily scrunched into a ball, such as plastic bags, chip packets, bread bags, mail satchels and cling wrap.

Despite its prolific use, only about 6% of soft plastic waste is recycled in Australia. The rest ends up in landfill or is littered into the environment, releasing toxins in our waterways and harming wildlife such as birds, turtles and whales.

Soft plastic can't be mixed with other household recycling (such as bottles and containers) in your yellow-lid bin, due to the problems it causes during processing at the materials recovery facility. This includes getting tangled in and jamming the sorting machines, or being mistaken by the machinery as paper and consequently contaminating the paper recycling stream.

Fortunately, there are several free and convenient options available to recycle clean, household soft plastics.

Curby Soft Plastics Program

The free Curby Soft Plastics Program gives Newcastle households the opportunity to recycle soft plastic packaging from home.

While loose soft plastics are not accepted via our kerbside recycling service, the Curby Program works by tightly containing soft plastics in tagged bags that can be filtered from other recyclables at the sorting facility.

All that you need to participate in the program is access to a smart phone.

To join, simply download the Curby app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Once registered, you'll be sent special yellow "CurbyTags" that you can attach to bagged clean, household soft plastics (please see notes below for conditions).

You can also pick up CurbyTags from our City Administration Centre, or from our Mayfield, Newcastle (City), Stockton, or Wallsend library branches, during regular opening hours.

To learn more about the program, please visit the Curby website.

Please note:

  • Soft plastics must be collected in shopping-bag sized plastic bags with handles. The bag must be able to tie a double knot to enclose the contents.
  • A CurbyTag must be placed on the bag to recycle it via our kerbside collection service. This prevents contamination of the other recyclables.
  • Soft plastics must never be placed loose in your yellow-lid bin.
  • Before placing soft plastics in your CurbyTagged bags, please remove any metal clips, such as those on netted fruit and vegetable bags or on bags of party ice or meat. The soft plastics processing machinery is not designed to handle metal clips and they pose a significant problem to the recycling process.

Trouble shooting for existing Curby members:

If you are already participating in the Curby program and are having trouble scanning the CurbyTags, try deleting and reinstalling the CurbyApp. If that doesn't resolve the issue, please reach out directly to the Curby team for support.

Sort & Save

Newcastle households can drop off clean, soft plastics for recycling at Summerhill Waste Management Centre, at no charge, as part of our Sort & Save service. Terms and conditions apply.

Our Sort & Save (PDF 885kB) flyer provides an overview of the service, including other recyclable materials you can drop off during your visit