Up to 80 per cent of Australians don’t realise the value of recycling to the national economy – approximately $15.5 billion, according to new research released for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week.
Planet Ark also found that while around three in four Australians are concerned or very concerned about waste, their motivations differ.
For older generations, reducing landfill resonated more significantly than the rest of the population, while younger Australians were more motivated by the potential of recycling to combat climate change and save wildlife.
Older Australians are also more likely to reduce waste by recycling, however younger Australians are more likely to reduce waste by their purchasing decisions.
The new data comes as part of Planet Ark’s National Recycling week, returning in 2020 from 9 November with the theme Recovery – A Future Beyond the Bin.
The campaign aims to highlight the important role resource recovery can occupy in wider economic and societal recovery, and the need to shift perceptions of waste to recognise its resource value.
“Recycling is valuable both environmentally and economically, and is more important than ever in light of the coronavirus pandemic,” Planet Ark Deputy CEO Rebecca Gilling said.
She added that the majority of councils Planet Ark surveyed reported increased volumes of general waste in kerbside bins as a result of COVID-19. Additionally, 45 per cent reported increased contamination in kerbside recycling bins.
“The pandemic has challenged the way we live, work and interact with the world around us and has offered us the chance to build a better future,” Gilling said.
“We know that it is critical that recycling and resource recovery are a part of this. We want to encourage Australians to play their part in a creating a future beyond the bin.”
Now in its 25th year, National Recycling Week provides an important opportunity for councils, workplaces, schools and individuals to strengthen their recycling knowledge, improve recycling habits and build trust in recycling.
A special focus this year is being paid to packaging, food and electronics, three of the most problematic waste streams in Australia with the greatest potential for improved resource recovery.
As well as new research, Planet Ark has released a new National Recycling Week Resource Hub and action-based A Future Beyond the Bin mini guide.
“What we call waste is a sign of inefficiency. Every Australian can own their impact and help make resource recovery part of our country or state’s economic recovery,” Planet Ark Head of Circular Economy Programs Ryan Collins said.
“The Future Beyond the Bin mini guide has been created to provide six easy steps to resource recovery, such as buying products or packaging with recycled content, getting into composting or recycling that old mobile phone. ”