New report reveals packaging labels key to consumers recycling right

New report by APCO and Planet Ark aims to better understand attitudes and behaviours towards recycling.

A new report into consumer insights has today revealed 76 per cent of Australians think recycling is the most positive thing they can do for the environment and that the first place they turn to for accurate information about how to recycle right is the labelling on their product packaging (51 per cent).

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.

It also showed the majority of Australians want more information about what can and can’t be recycled, and that more than half check the labelling on their packaging multiple times before recycling to make sure that they are recycling correctly.

Rebecca Gilling, Planet Ark Deputy CEO, said the findings highlight just 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 really 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,” Gilling 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. So keep checking it before you chuck it!”

The need for correct packaging recycling labelling is critical and led to the development of the ARL, the only evidence-based, on-pack label that clearly shows Australians how to correctly recycle and dispose of all parts of their packaging after use.

Since its launch in 2018, the ARL Program has gained widespread support from government and industry, and most recently the Federal Budget allocated $5 milllion 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 per cent year on year), with awareness highest among younger Australians, 16-24 year olds (82 per cent), 25 – 34 year olds (79 per cent), 35 – 44 year olds (78 per cent).

One in five Australians also indicated that they would recycle a lot more if the ARL was on their product packaging and three quarters want to see the label on every item of packaging.

Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO, said: “From casting their vote at the cash register to the individual choices we make 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,” concludes Donnelly.

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