Study reveals 94% of Australians are messing up recycling

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Study reveals 94% of Australians are messing up recycling

New research highlights a staggering 94% of Australians are making recycling mistakes despite 60% being extremely confident in their recycling habits.

The Don’t Waste Your Waste study, funded by Nestlé Australia and developed in partnership with Planet Ark, paints a concerning picture of the nation’s overly optimistic opinion of our recycling habits. Released on Global Recycling Day, the study highlights the need for further investment in education on recycling to help Australians minimise what is sent to landfill and reduce recycling contamination.

The study revealed that the majority of Australians (96%) are eager to recycle and four out of five want to reduce their waste in general. Additionally, 75% are worried about the impact waste has on the planet and the legacy they leave to the next generation. Despite this, 94% still put one or more non-recyclable items in their recycling bin, highlighting the confusion preventing us from being better recyclers.

Household recycling mistakes highlighted by the study include:

  • 36% incorrectly putting plastic bags and soft plastics in their household recycling bin.
  • 58% failing to remove leftover food from pizza boxes before recycling.
  • 73% not flattening egg cartons before putting them in their recycling bin.
  • 82% incorrectly assuming the mobius loop or chasing arrows logo on plastic packaging means it is recyclable.

Nestlé Head of Corporate and External Relations Margaret Stuart said, “This research shows us that most Australians are not only confused about recycling, but on autopilot and making simple mistakes repeatedly. It’s clear that people need better information and clearer guidance on not just what should and shouldn’t go in household recycling bins, but how it should go in. Equally, more needs to be done to promote programs designed to capture recyclable items that don’t belong in our household bins.”

Three easy steps that people can take to improve the quality of their recycling include:

  1. Checking Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You website for guidance on how to recycle.
  2. Looking for the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) on products for guidance on how to correctly dispose of packaging.
  3. Taking soft plastics to a REDcycle collection point at Coles or Woolworths supermarkets.

Planet Ark Deputy CEO Rebecca Gilling said the study showed people needed more support to recycle correctly.

“These results highlight the need for increased investment and collaboration between all levels of government and business. Companies like Nestlé, through its adoption of the Australasian ARL and its commitment to waste reduction, provide a great example of how organisations can step forward to tackle this problem. Nestlé is one of around 100 companies that have already adopted the ARL to help their customers make the right recycling decisions. Planet Ark calls on other brands to commit to using the ARL on their packaging,” Gilling said.

Image credit: © Lukic

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