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The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) has been recognised in this year’s Australian Financial Review (AFR) Sustainability Leaders list in the special category of Education Enabler. Developed by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), the ARL has been revised to include the Check Locally logo, adapting to evolving recycling systems.

Recognition of the ARL and Check Locally logo in these awards, gives vindication not only to APCO but also to the many brands who are adopting the ARL. The on-pack labelling system provides consumers with clear instructions on how to properly dispose of or recycle packaging, aiming to reduce contamination in recycling streams and support a circular economy.

APCO reports the ARL is now used on nearly 580,000 stock keeping units (SKUs), with over 1000 businesses participating in the program, including retail giants like Woolworths, Coles, and Aldi, which collectively represent 75 per cent of the food and grocery market.

The ARL program, recognised by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) as a world-leading initiative, is evidence-based and constantly assessed to reflect evolving recovery markets. The number of packaging components carrying a recyclable ARL rose from 61-68 per cent from 2019 to 2022. In 2023 alone, the ARL transitioned 60,000 products to improved recyclability outcomes.

The ARL helps brands design and change their packaging so it’s recyclable.
The ARL helps brands design and change their packaging so it’s recyclable.

Chris Foley, CEO of APCO, highlights the importance of the ARL: “APCO Members are leveraging the ARL Program to educate consumers on responsible packaging disposal. Designing recyclable packaging is futile if it isn't being recycled. The ARL Program evaluates each piece of packaging to provide tailored recycling instructions, ensuring proper disposal and maximising its value within the economy.”

In response to the 2022 collapse of the supermarket-based soft plastics recycling system, REDcycle, APCO introduced the Check Locally logo. This flexible tool reflects new collection processes as they come into effect. 

The Check Locally logo allows brand owners to avoid frequent label updates as the soft plastics recycling market involves, ensuring consumers receive the most up-to-date recycling guidance.

To qualify for this logo, soft plastics must meet new thresholds aligned with global best practices, encouraging design for circularity and enabling higher value recovery.

New soft plastic collection points are available and can be located through arl.org.au including supermarkets trials at ALDI, Coles, and Woolworths in Melbourne, and specific council sites like the Randwick Recycling Centre.

The ARL Marketplace program, set to launch in late 2024, will broaden access to the ARL for small to medium enterprises (SMEs). This sourcing platform will allow registered SMEs to access packaging that has been assessed through APCO’s Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) to carry the ARL.

APCO's new and improved website, arl.org.au, provides transparency and confidence for consumers and businesses, particularly in governance of the programme. 

New soft plastic collection points are available and can be located through arl.org.au
New soft plastic collection points are available and can be located through arl.org.au

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