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Australians suffering a recycling crisis-of-confidence

A recent study, Community Attitudes to Waste and Recycling by Pact Group, revealed that 81 per cent of Australians are not confident they recycle everything effectively.

The study also indicated that of those Australians who identify as confident recyclers, one in five (22per cent) admitted that, if they were unsure of whether an item could be recycled or not, they would dispose of it in their kerbside recycling bin regardless.

This phenomenon is known as ‘’wish-cycling’  and is a major contributor to contamination in the waste stream and valuable materials entering landfill unnecessarily.

As a result, a new campaign, ‘Check It! Before You Chuck It’, to educate Australians about sustainable packaging and inspire positive recycling behaviours launched this week.

The campaign was developed in partnership by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and Planet Ark and is supported by the Australian Government. It calls on all Australians to check the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) every time they are at the bin, to enable them to recycle their packaging correctly.

According to Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, “One of the best practical things we can do to help the environment is to recycle correctly. This new recycling campaign, funded by the Federal Government, is a fantastic reminder to always be mindful of recycling correctly by looking for the packaging label before chucking things in the bin. Recycling correctly reduces the amount of waste going to landfill and enables new products to be made and re-used again and again”.

Passionate Australians

Planet Ark, deputy CEO, Rebecca Gilling added, “We know Australians are passionate about the environment and want to do the right thing. The most common place people look for recycling information is on product packaging, therefore we need to have consistent labelling on that packaging that truly reflects Australia’s recycling infrastructure.

The second step is to educate Australians to look for the Australasian Recycling Label when they are at the bin, which will help them recycle right, reduce contamination in our recycling streams and keep recyclable materials in circulation.”

The Check It! Before You Chuck It campaign also aims to generate widespread awareness of the ARL, an evidence-based on-pack label that clearly shows Australians how to correctly recycle and dispose of packaging after use. Since its launch in 2018, the ARL Program has gained widespread support from government and industry, with many of Australia’s best-known brands and retailers carrying the label on their product packaging.

Empowering consumers

APCO CEO, Brooke Donnelly also stressed that the organisation wanted consumers to feel empowered about the important role they play in helping Australia to get our approach to recycling right.

“Research consistently shows that Australians are confused by recycling – this campaign will help to cut through that confusion with one simple action every time consumers are at the bin: to check it before they chuck it.”

Pact Group, managing director and CEO, Sanjay Dayal added that reducing confusion and improving Australia’s waste stream will help build Australia’s circular economy and reduce our reliance on imported recycled materials.

“This will unlock significant environmental and economic benefits while creating high quality, local manufacturing jobs for generations to come.”

The new campaign, which was developed using principles of behaviour change, is headlined by an engaging animation which introduces a cast of interactive characters who visually demonstrate the positive recycling behaviour of checking the ARL before chucking packaging in the bin so that it can be correctly disposed and recycled.

The ‘Check It! Before You Chuck It’ call to action is reinforced by a jingle which accompanies the animation and supported by a suite of creative assets which will all be shared with Australians through a number of platforms including social media.