With population and waste levels continuing to rise and China’s waste import ‘ban’ hitting hard, there has likely never been a more challenging time for managing Australia’s waste. That’s why last year we asked Australians to reboot their perspective of recycling in the most important National Recycling Week since it was founded 22 years ago.
The theme for 2018, From Waste War to Recycling Reboot, aimed to resolve some of the confusion surrounding how to recycle right and what happens to our recycling once it has left our hands. To achieve this, we engaged with other experts and followed a range of materials from kerbside recycling and other recycling programs on their journey through the emerging circular economy.
From Waste War to Recycling Reboot
As part of our theme, Planet Ark produced a comprehensive report detailing the current challenges faced by our domestic recycling industry as well as opportunities to improve Australia’s emerging circular economy. The research, compiled from sources including a survey of over 180 Australian councils, focus-group studies commissioned by Planet Ark and publicly available resources, had a number of interesting findings.
Firstly, the report found that while the vast majority of Australians (91%) agree that recycling is the right thing to do and a similar number (85%) believe recycling to be easy, almost half of us aren’t sure of what actually happens to our recycling beyond the bin. Even more concerning, our findings indicated many people aren’t recycling as well as they might think.
A council survey conducted by Planet Ark found that the most common recycling mistake made by residents was soft plastics (like bread bags), bagged recyclables and food scraps or organics being placed in the recycling bin. These mistakes cause problems at sorting facilities and lead to more of Australia’s recyclables going to landfill.
These results backed up our previous findings indicating the relationship between effective waste management and recycling and environmental benefits. Without effective waste management and a strong domestic recycling industry, issues in the public eye such as plastic pollution will be difficult to manage moving forward.
Belmore Park event
As our research proved, recycling can be confusing. To address this, Planet Ark held our National Recycling Week event in Belmore Park, Sydney on Tuesday, November 13. The aim was to answer questions from the general public and provide information on the many innovative and positive things happening in the waste and recycling sphere, which are often overlooked amidst the challenges posed by external factors.
Some of the highlights included:
- A wide array of speakers including Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko, APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly, City of Sydney Councillor Jess Miller, UNSW Professor Veena Sahajwalla, celebrity designer James Treble and more.
- Educational talks on recycling, composting, upcycling and reuse.
- Live art creation and upcycling workshops.
- Music played on upcycled instruments
- Much, much more!
If you didn’t make it on the day, here’s a little highlight reel of what you missed!
With thanks to
National Recycling Week 2018 was kindly supported by Major Sponsor Bingo Industries, Associate Sponsors MobileMuster, Nespresso, Australasian Recycling Label and Cartridges 4 Planet Ark and Supporting Sponsors, Unilever and Tetra Pak.
Those sponsors reached some major recycling milestones last year that bear repeating:
- Bingo Industries reported an increase in their industry leading construction and demolition recycling rates to 85% at their Minto facility.
- MobileMuster recycled more than 1,400 tonnes of mobile phone components overall with 99% of materials being recovered.
- Nespresso now has over 20,000 collection points for their coffee capsules.
- Tetra Pak's rate of packaging recycling has increased year on year, going from 20% to 25% since 2010.
- Popular Unilever brands using 25% locally sourced recycled plastic will be on shelf this year.
- And last but not least, Cartridges 4 Planet Ark have broken the 40 million cartridges recycled barrier.