Samantha Cross of Plastic Police:

Passion for recycling soft plastic

In this episode of the Plastics Revolution podcast, I chat with Samantha Cross of Plastic Police and Cross Connections Consulting.

Samantha spent most of her career helping companies reduce their waste as an employee of Brambles.  Then a few years ago, a combination of circumstances led her to start her own consulting company and a passion project she called Plastic Police to tackle soft plastic waste specifically.

What started as a shipping container and one school has now evolved to a fully tested model with a scalable blueprint for businesses and organisations anywhere.

We hope you enjoy this episode of Plastics Revolution with Samantha Cross of Plastic Police.


Hosted by Tammy Ven Dange
Produced by Jonny Puskas
Theme Music by Joseph McDade
All Rights Reserved 2020

Topics from this episode:

  • 0.00 | Intro
  • 1.46 | First job as a truck driver
  • 3.13 | Learning about the circular economy as an employee at Brambles
  • 7.15 | Changing career paths
  • 8.39 | Why focus on plastic?
  • 10.46 | The origins of Plastic Police, a passion project
  • 16.53 | More than a collection program
  • 19.53 | How to turn this passion project into something sustainable
  • 33.15 | The new Plastic Police Blueprint
  • 37.28 | How to find out more about Plastic Police and its new Blueprint

Quotes from Samantha Cross in this episode:

“I probably have been practising circular economy principles since the late 1990s, to be honest. When I was in the industrial services part of the business (at Brambles), we used to manage contracts that were require us to look at innovative ways to reduce our client’s costs. And by doing so, we were able to win new contracts and renew contracts. And I went to businesses and really looked at, you know, we were managing the waste at the time, but looking at ways, well, where was this waste coming from?”

“The easy option for me would be just to take it (plastic film from new furniture just purchased) into my network of contacts and get it recycled. But I actually put my hat on. While I’m a mother of three daughters, I’m actually apart of a community. And if it wasn’t easy for me to recycle as a as a mother, as a community member, then I know it wouldn’t be easy for other people.”

‘I was chairing the local Waste Management Association of Australia, the Hunter Regional Working Group. So, I had contacts, obviously, in all the waste management companies. So, I went along with a bag of plastic that I’d collected and said, “Look, I’ve got an idea. Who’d like to be involved?” And not surprisingly, I didn’t get any takers. It wasn’t a lot of value in plastic at that time.’

“So, I actually went out and bought a shipping container and approached my local school where my children attended at the time.”

Samantha Cross and Shipping Container

“I wanted to actually help communities not only take it away from landfill, but also start to realise the amount of packaging that we do use and other ways to reduce this packaging waste. Because at the end of the day, we still have to find markets for this material.”

“Plastic Police is committed to educating and empowering organisations and communities to implement circular economy solutions. So, we’ve always maintained it’s not just a recycling program. Because at the end of the day, if we’re not buying back products, then we really don’t have a sustainable recycling solution.”

“Once we had finished the trial, I announced to the school community that the trial had finished, and there was community outrage. The reason being was they didn’t want to stop it.”

“We know the logistics in any recycling is a huge cost, and there’s a lot that goes into logistics.”

“We actually put the brakes on bringing anyone new on board because that just wasn’t feasible at the time. And I didn’t want to commit to collecting any plastic that I actually couldn’t find a home for.”

“If someone rings up and says, “I want to recycle my plastic. How much does it cost?” They would probably not our target at this point in time because we were doing a lot of face to face education, engagement. So, the people that were actually coming on board are the ones that actually saw more than it being just a recycling program. It was actually a community and staff engagement program.”

“It’s not seen as a recycling program or a waste management program. It’s actually a behaviour change community engagement program that ticks the boxes for a number of our participants in the SDG. space – Sustainable Development Goals.”

“We just haven’t gone in and spoken to the person responsible for the recycling the organisation. We go in, and we engage with everyone in the organisation because we really think everyone has a role to play to actually implement those circular solutions.”

“We’re actually going to focus on those two key areas: helping people to reduce soft plastic waste and secondly, buying back recycled products.”

“We really want to give people the tools to go in and implement this program themselves and really put their stamp on it. And if they know they want to own this program and in that respect, we are actually going to develop a blueprint. It’s called the Plastic Police Blueprint, which really shares our learnings over the last five years.”

“I think at the end of the day, where we add the most value is definitely on the education engagement side, and the repurchasing back, educating people about what they can repurchase back.”

Plastic Police educating kids about soft plastic

Links & Resources

Other Plastics Revolution podcast guests mentioned:

Manufactures of recycled products using soft plastic:

Published by

Tammy Ven Dange

IT Consultant for the Not for Profit Sector | Host of "Executive with a Cause" Podcast

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