More than three quarters (76%) of Australians think that recycling is the most positive thing they can do for the environment and for 51%, the first place they turn to is product packaging for accurate information about how to recycle right, according to a new report.  

The report, Australasian Recycling Label Consumer Insights Report 2021 by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and Planet Ark, was developed to better understand attitudes and behaviours towards recycling.

Planet Ark deputy CEO, Rebecca Gilling said the findings highlight how much importance Australians place on putting the right packaging in the right bin and why programs like the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) are so important.

“We’re encouraged to see how passionate Australians are about recycling and developing positive recycling behaviours. Product packaging is the first place that Australians look for recycling information and this tells us that if products display accurate and easy to follow recycling instructions, consumers will be able to recycle with greater confidence,” she said.

“Initiatives like the ARL provide accurate on-pack instructions about how to recycle each part of a product’s packaging, taking the confusion out of recycling and giving Australians the confidence to know that they are recycling right.”

Since launch in 2018, the ARL Program has gained widespread support from government and industry, and most recently the Federal Budget allocated $5 million in additional funding to support small to medium enterprises to adopt the label.

The report shows that awareness of the ARL has grown significantly (up by 16% year on year), with awareness highest among younger Australians, those aged 16 to 24 years old (82%), 25 to 34 years old (79%), 35 to 44 years old (78%). One in five Australians also indicated that they would recycle more if the ARL was on their product packaging and three quarters want to see the label on every item of packaging.

APCO CEO, Brooke Donnelly said from casting their vote at the cash register to individual choices at the bin, consumers can play a powerful role in improving Australia’s approach to waste and recycling.

“Everyone, including industry, government and consumers, is vital to creating cleaner waste streams in Australia, while understanding attitudes and beliefs is crucial to getting everyone to recycle more and to recycle better.

“The ARL Program continues to go from strength to strength, passing the 500th member milestone, being widely recognised in the Australian Government’s National Plastics Plan and highlighted by the UN Environment Programme as a best practice example of consumer labelling. For Australian businesses the message is clear: there has never been a better time to be involved.”