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The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has published its Australasian Recycling Label Consumer Insights Report 2023, which is its annual benchmarking survey exploring consumer recycling attitudes, beliefs and behaviours in Australia and New Zealand.

The report reveals three quarters of Australians (74%) still believe that a trip to the recycling bin is the most impactful thing they can do for the environment. Regular recycling was voted more environmentally impactful than reusable shopping bags (61%), switching the lights off (58%), and using refillable containers (43%). 

Meanwhile, just a fifth of Aussies (20%) think cutting their red meat consumption is a top green priority, and a third (34%) consider swapping the bus or train for the car will drive the biggest impact. 

However, when it comes to recycling, confusion is still a challenge. Half of Australian households (50%) find it difficult to know what can and can’t be recycled at home, and the majority (65%) want more information about how to recycle. 

Australians are also embracing their local drop-off point – an impressive 21 per cent head to their local container deposit scheme (CDS) to drop off plastic bottles, while 30 per cent use the service to earn cash on their aluminium cans. 

On-pack labelling continues to present the best channel for businesses to help their customers recycle packaging correctly. 

Packaging labels are the most common place people look for recycling advice (62% of Aussies look at least once), while half (52%) would look to the signage around their bins or simply via Google search. 

The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) continues to play an important role in helping Australians put packaging in the right bin. Awareness of the ARL has continued to grow steadily year-on-year (47% in 2018 and 76% in 2023), and the majority (76%) think it is a great idea and want to see it on all packaging. 

Critically, when tested about which packaging belongs in the yellow bin, Australians were better recyclers when the ARL was present on-pack. 

Since its inception, the ARL Program has positively influenced the packaging design choices of brand owners and promotes circular economy initiatives.

As the only evidence-based recycling label in Australia and New Zealand, the ARL plays a significant role in positively impacting consumer behaviour both at the bin and at the checkout.

“Understanding the pain points that everyday people are experiencing at the bin is an essential part of building an effective recycling system. One year on from the closure of the much-loved REDcycle program, it’s encouraging to see that Australians still trust and value recycling,” said Chris Foley, CEO of APCO. 

“For businesses, it’s essential we reward that trust by providing accurate recycling information to make the process as simple as possible. 

“We know the ARL plays a vital role in helping consumers make responsible purchasing and packaging recycling decisions. More than that, it’s a great tool for businesses to understand the materials they are using in their packaging and what the environmental outcomes are. 

“There has never been a greater time or opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to packaging sustainability.” 

To access the full Australasian Recycling Label Consumer Insights Report 2023, click here.

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