Study reinforces how bad Aussies are at recycling

Research into Australians’ recycling behaviours and attitudes shows only 25 per cent of us are separating waste correctly.

Up to 35 per cent of recycling is going to landfill due to simple sorting errors. Australians are keen on a more sustainable future, but they remain confused about fundamental recycling practices.

These are the main findings of a report by recycling specialist Cleanaway. Titled, the Recycling Behaviours Report, it was launched recently launched to support the company’s Greenius online education platform, which has been designed to help consumers get recycling right.

The report found 89 per cent of Aussies think recycling is important and 74 per cent say they’re good at it. However, studies have shown that 25 per cent of people separate waste correctly at every opportunity and almost 50 per cent still putting soft plastics in our kerbside recycling bins.

Cleanaway NSW sustainability manager, Rebecca Evered, said these findings reflect the consumer behaviour in municipal waste collection services.

“We’re really encouraged by the support that recycling has in the community, and the public’s intention to do the right thing, but unfortunately, we’re losing a lot of valuable resource to landfill because people are unclear about what can go in the recycling bin,” Evered said.

The new online platform is a free, easy-to-use learning platform designed to simplify recycling for all households. We know Greenius aims to motivate people to facilitate and accelerate the transition to a circular economy, demonstrating how the small actions and changes we make every day can have lasting impacts for years to come.

“Our research has uncovered one in four parents don’t find it easy to teach their kids about recycling and nearly one third of Australians still find recycling confusing. Different regulations between councils and uncertainty around what can and can’t be recycled can be really tricky to navigate,” Evered said. “On the bright side, we think users will be really surprised by how easy some of the universal recycling rules are to apply – and Greenius is here to empower people to make the right decisions when it comes to disposing of everyday household waste. “The Recycling Behaviours Report found that only 15 per cent of Australians are familiar with the concept of a ‘circular economy’ – an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and keeping resources in continual use.”

The Greenius platform is a more recent initiative supported by the CEFC that extends its commitment to educational activities designed to improve recycling behaviour.

“The CEFC is excited to work with Cleanaway to develop this innovative national education platform. By explaining how recycling works and pointing out some of the common mistakes we make when sorting our rubbish, Greenius can help us improve our emissions reduction efforts,” CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said.

Cleanaway’s Recycling Behaviours Report key findings:

  • 89 per cent of Australians consider recycling to be important
  • 74 per cent say they’re good at recycling
  • Only 25 per cent of Aussies always separate their waste into the appropriate bins at home, at work, and when out in public
  • 47 per cent incorrectly believe soft plastics can be put in the kerbside recycling bins
  • 21 per cent don’t realise you need to remove lids from plastic bottles before recycling
  • 53 per cent of Aussies wrongly think a pizza box with greasy stains can be recycled or composted
  • 17 per cent wrongly think recycling can be sealed in a plastic bag in the kerbside bin
  • Only 15 per cent of Aussies are familiar with the concept of the circular economy