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National Recycling Week initiatives take off across Australia

Recycling initiatives are putting resource recovery at the forefront during Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week – held from November 11-17.

The week comes with a call from Federal government urging Australians to “brush up on their recycling habits”, and with state governments taking it as a chance to implement some timely improvements in their waste management programs.

In a joint statement, Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley and the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans highlighted the importance of a circular economy for the environment.

“The Australian government knows Australians care deeply about the environment; Australians want to be confident that when they put their recycling bin out on the kerb everything in it will be collected and recycled.

“That is why the government has committed to a $167 million Australian Recycling Investment Plan to increase Australia’s recycling rates, tackle plastic waste and litter, accelerate work on new recycling schemes, and continue action to halve food waste by 2030.

“The Australian government welcomes the contributions and leadership from business, state governments and local communities to address Australia’s waste and recycling challenges. Together we can respond to and benefit from the waste and recycling challenge and secure an even cleaner, greener Australia,” Ley and Evans said in a joint statement.

Organisations are also getting behind National Recycling Week. TerraCycle has launched more than 100 new Zero Waste Boxes in Australia to make it easier for people to recycle more materials.

Australians can now recycle anything from cigarette butts through to chewing gum, party decorations, jewellery and toys, instead of sending them to landfill. Also included is an ‘all-in-one’ box to recycle anything that isn’t accepted in kerbside collections.

TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes are recycling solutions for items that aren’t typically accepted in kerbside collections.

A Zero Waste Box is filled with a specific waste stream before being shipped back to TerraCycle through Australia Post. TerraCycle will then sort, shred, and melt the waste into plastic pellets to be used in the manufacture of new products such as garden beds, park benches and even playgrounds. Globally, TerraCycle has diverted more than 7.7 billion pieces of waste from landfill.

Further, TerraCycle has unveiled a new Shopify website where consumers can purchase any of the new Zero Waste Boxes for the home, office, school or business.

TerraCycle Australia general manager Jean Bailliard said that TerraCycle is committed to providing innovative recycling solutions for items that most Australians consider non-recyclable.

“We asked our collectors what they wanted to recycle and have designed these new Zero Waste Boxes with them in mind,” Bailliard said.

Planet Ark has come up with a “Top 7” list of recycling myths – aimed at challenging people to improve their recycling habits. It gives details into the truth behind each “busted myth”.

  1. Myth: All recycling goes to landfill. Truth: Recycling does actually get recycled.
  2. Myth: People’s recycling responsibilities are done once it’s in the bin. Truth: Unless you’re buying it back, you’re not fully recycling.
  3. Myth: All plastic with a triangle symbol can be put in a kerbside recycling bin. Truth: The Australasian Recycling Label is the only evidence-based recycling label.
  4. Myth: The only way to recycle is via a council recycling bin. Truth: There are other ways to recycle aside from council recycling.
  5. Myth: It’s too hard to recycle at work. Truth: Recycling at work can be made easy.
  6. Myth: Food scraps are not an issue in landfill. Truth: Food scraps cause greenhouse gas emissions in landfill.
  7. Myth: Recycling is my contribution to the environment. Truth: Reduce and reuse first, then recycle.

In ACT, people can learn about ways to improve recycling and reuse with a series of events taking place in the territory this week.

Throughout the week residents can visit the sustainable packaging exhibition in the Canberra Centre; book behind-the-scene tours at facilities such as the Recycling Discovery Hub; find out what happens to the brewing leftovers at Capital Brewing Co; and take part in a composting workshop to learn more about managing food waste.

Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction Chris Steel said that in the wake of changes to the global recycling industry, how people manage their waste is more important than ever.

“National Recycling Week is a fantastic opportunity to showcase how we encourage recycling and reduce our waste in the ACT.

“Get involved and be inspired by stories of innovation, go behind the scenes at recycling facilities and find out what you can do to reduce, reuse and recycle,” Steel said.

The Western Australian government has released new “WasteSorted” signage for primary schools across the state to equip younger Western Australians with waste wise knowledge and instil good habits to reduce waste.

The “monster-inspired” signage will help school students to sort their waste correctly, and relate to Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO), recyclables, general waste, work farms, composting, and cardboard and paper.

The Western Australian government is also encouraging metropolitan councils to adopt a consistent three bin kerbside collection system including introducing FOGO bins.

Funding is currently being provided to 10 local governments collecting FOGO, representing more than 100,000 households. The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 has a target that all local governments in the Perth and Peel region will introduce the consistent three bin system, including FOGO, by 2025.

The state’s Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said that the continued roll out of the FOGO Better Bins program is another example of the important changes that are happening.

“Not only is this better for the environment, it also has the potential to reduce costs for councils,” Dawson said.

“Initiatives such as the Waste Wise Schools program, including the new WasteSorted schools signage, gives our next generation the information they need to make a difference not only in the school, but also at home,” he said.