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Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week celebrates 25 years this week with activities to raise awareness of the importance of recycling and reuse, and a strong 'buy recycled' push from government.

Since the campaign was founded in 1996, the recycling rate in Australia has gone from seven per cent and just 1.5 million tonnes recycled, to over 60 per cent and 43 million tonnes.

Translated, Australians have increased annual recycling volumes from 80kg to 1700kg per person.

From 8-14 November, residents are being asked to celebrate recycling in a meaningful way – whether by hosting or joining a recycling event, brushing up on recycling knowledge, or discovering new ways to cut down on waste and improve recycling/reuse.

This year, National Recycling Week is evolving by bringing reuse into focus, with repairing, repurposing and reusing items being put higher in the waste hierarchy of importance when it comes to transitioning into a circular economy.

The campaign will seek to positively highlight the advancements made over those 25 years, and raise awareness of the continued importance of recycling and reuse amongst the Australian public through several initiatives. 

“Our research shows Australians overwhelmingly agree that recycling is the right thing to do and is good for the environment, and we hope to see these attitudes translate into positive action,” said Rebecca Gilling, co-CEO of Planet Ark. 

“The advancements Australia has made in recycling since 1996 are something we should all celebrate as a strong recycling industry is highly valuable for both our environment and our economy.

“Now is the time to celebrate recycling and its benefits, while recognising how we can further improve on our own knowledge and behaviours.”

As well as the planned events for the week, Planet Ark also has a new Resource Hub with lots of tools and tips for community groups to get involved, and other fun and educational activities and online events available. 

Research from Planet Ark this year found Australians are becoming more educated about items that cause recycling contamination issues, including soft plastics, bagged recyclables and clothing. 

Planet Ark stats shows that nearly 1.5 million more Australians know to keep soft plastics out of recycling bins in 2021 compared to 2019, while just under a million more Australians know bagged recyclables clothing do not get recycled through kerbside services. 

Govt pushes 'buy recycled'

And as new figures show that business investment in recycling is also breaking all expectation, Australians have been urged to “buy recycled” by the Australian government. 

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the government’s planned $600 million Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) is now on track to exceed $800 million due to the increased business investment, and that it is time for consumers and industry to help close the loop by looking for goods that contain recycled content.

“Times are changing and looking for recycled content in the products and packaging we buy will soon be as routine as our use of the recycling bin today,” Ley said. 

“We are seeing recycled materials turned into mayonnaise jars, coffee capsules, credit cards and drink bottles, roads made out of recycled tyres, and recycling bins made out of recycled material.”

Assistant minister for Waste Reduction Trevor Evans said not only are we seeing investment in new plants, we are seeing a step up to new technologies that will create a wider range of recycling options for new products.

“That means the waste previously exported or sent to landfill can be used across a wider range of products and packaging,” Evans continued.

“Already, companies are making decisions that give consumers the opportunity to choose sustainable options, and National Recycling Week is a good opportunity to recognise those efforts.”

National Recycling Week is made possible by major sponsor Gumtree Australia, associate sponsor Coca-Cola Australia, and supporting sponsors Tetra Pak, MobileMuster, Australasian Recycling Label, and Cartridges 4 Planet Ark.

To learn more or to get involved, visit the National Recycling Week website.

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