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Second Nature - Recycling in Australia

Date: 12-Nov-12

Second Nature Report Summary - Click to download © Zo Zhou

Second Nature Report Summary - Click to download


Recycling items like newspapers, aluminium cans and milk cartons at home has become second nature over the past few decades. According to Australian Packaging Covenant data included in the report, the recycling rate for packaging has soared from 39.2% in 2003 to 63.1% in 2011. However, Australian households and businesses are still sending almost 22 million tonnes of waste to landfill each year. That's the equivalent weight of 416 Sydney Harbour Bridges being buried. The reality is that much of that material is recyclable.

National Recycling Week provides a great opportunity for us to examine the what, why and how of recycling; so Planet Ark has released a report called Second Nature - Recycling In Australia. The report, available in Full and Summary versions, examines the history of recycling, the current priorities and the likely future.

This report addresses the following questions about recycling: 

  • How have wars, depressions and world crises, like the 1970s oil shock, affected the way Australians manage resource and recycle? 
  • Why are some materials recycled and others aren't?
  • What are the four key drivers that mean a material is likely to be recycled? 
  • What is happening with e-waste recycling? 
  • Why is it more difficult to recycle from homes than businesses? 
  • How effective have producer responsibility programs like 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' and MobileMuster been? 
  • Why should recycling be considered a second 'nature' now and in the future?  

To answer these and other key questions about recycling check out

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