The missing piece of the recycling puzzle
Author: Carol Warwick
As Australia’s population and waste levels continue to rise, recycling matters now more than ever. This year Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week (13 – 19 November) highlights why recycling is only part of the battle. To help win the War on Waste consumers and businesses need to properly close the recycling loop by purchasing products that contain recycled content.
In the 20 years to 2015, Australia’s population increased by 28% and waste levels grew by 170%. The good news is that recycling is growing at an even faster rate than waste. What happens to those materials once they have been recycled and how everyone plays a part in the process is a key focus of this year’s National Recycling Week campaign.
Currently the Australian manufacturing economy is predominantly linear, which can be summarised as ‘take, make, use and, dispose’. This is not sustainable. A circular economy on the other hand, replaces ‘dispose’ with ‘recycle, reuse and repurpose’ and keeps important materials like plastic, metal and paper in circulation from being wasted in landfill.
“Since the introduction of kerbside recycling in the 80s and 90s Australians have really embraced recycling. But to truly close the recycling loop, and keep valuable resources like plastic, metal and paper in circulation and out of landfills, we need to buy back the products that have been made from our recycling,” says Ryan Collins, Planet Ark’s Recycling Programs Manager.
New research from Planet Ark’s new guide What Goes Around: Why Buying Recycled Matters shows 88% of Australians already purchase products that contain recycled materials, and 70% said they would be more likely to purchase products and / or packaging if they contained recycled materials. Most Australians also have high awareness of some products that can be made with recycled materials including office paper (83%), toilet tissue (75%) and paper towels (78%).
However, the new research also shows there is less awareness about other products that can be made using recycled materials, such as road surfaces, paving and even fashion.
“We’re actually surrounded by products made from our recycling, and people may be surprised by some of the recycled products out there, like wallets and purses made from tyre inner tubes; surfboard fins made from ocean plastic; eye glasses made from milk bottle lids; fencing made from printer cartridges; as well as shampoo bottles and shopping bags made from recycled PET plastic and even pet litter made from recycled paper. Also, inspiring discoveries from research and development projects are finding more and more ways to utilise waste, so the list of products made from recycled materials will continue to grow,” Collins says.
Some of those innovations include using the unique qualities of problem waste, like tyres, to create synthetic hockey or soccer pitches, or even green steel, which reduces electricity consumption and delivers productivity improvements. Other inspiring stories include research into new uses for glass, which can be used in road bases and construction.
“When consumers and businesses purchase products that are made from recycled materials, they create a demand for recycling, which supports Australian industry, allows new recycled manufacturing opportunities to flourish and creates jobs. As well as being good for the environment, the financial benefits of this closed loop cycle are significant. It’s estimated that by 2025 the circular economy in Australia could be worth $26 billion,” Collins says.
How to find recycled products
High consumer support for products that contain recycled content will grow that market and strengthen the circular economy in Australia. To make it easier for consumers and businesses to buy recycled, Planet Ark has created a handy online Recycled Products Directory to raise awareness that these products are available and plentiful.
Buy It Back Day
This year Planet Ark is also launching a new annual event. Buy It Back Day (Sat 18 Nov) encourages the community to celebrate National Recycling Week through mindful purchasing by buying something secondhand or buying a product made from recycled materials. Shoppers are invited to share their purchase on social media with a photo and hashtags #BuyItBack and #NationalRecyclingWeek.
Schools can take the Naturale Schools Recycle Right Challenge with free, fun and interactive teaching resources. A school from each state and territory will win a Replas outdoor seat made from recycled soft plastics worth $439, with three runners-up receiving an eWood Garden Bed as part of the schools competition.
Recycle Right Quiz
Everyone can test their waste knowledge with the online Recycle Right Quiz. All participants go into the draw to win one of ten Plastic Free Starter Kits worth $84 donated by Biome Eco Stores, which includes a glass KeepCup, a five pack of Onya bags, a stainless steel straw, plus more.
Join the community’s War on Waste and celebrate National Recycling Week! For more information on any of the above explore RecyclingWeek.PlanetArk.org or call the hotline 1300 733 712.
National Recycling Week Events
Schools Recycle Right Challenge (2 Oct – 17 Nov)
Friday File Fling (Fri 17 Nov)
Buy It Back Day (Sat 18 Nov)
Big Aussie Swap (13 – 19 Nov)
This year Planet Ark also welcomes Professor Veena Sahajwalla (Director SMaRT Centre, UNSW), Laura Wells (model, marine biologist, sustainable fashion advocate), James Treble (interior designer and upcycling guru), Costa Georgiadis (ABC Gardening Australia) and Magdalena Roze (author, meteorologist and food waste warrior) as ambassadors for National Recycling Week.
National Recycling Week 2017 is kindly supported by Major Sponsor Naturale Tissue Products, Associate Sponsors Bingo Industries and ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’, Supporting Sponsors MobileMuster, Planet Ark 100% Australian Recycled Paper (Australian Paper), Tetra Pak and Tyre Stewardship Australia and Prize Partners Biome, eWood Gardens and Replas.
- Unilever takes steps towards a circular economy »
- Naturale pledges to end recycling labelling confusion »
- New research sheds light on Australian attitudes towards environmental sustainability »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Preloved clothing as your first fashion option »
- Make the Naturale choice at the supermarket »
- Reflections on a Plastic Free July »
- China challenge an opportunity for the Australian recycling industry »
- Packaging industry moves towards better plastic recycling outcomes »
- War on Waste is back! »
- How Cartridges 4 Planet Ark is part of the solution to plastic pollution »
- Planet Ark urges Ipswich Council to reverse decision to send valuable materials to landfill - and the Council agrees »
- Win the war on waste at work! »
- 8 ways to green your 2018 »
- Our green resolutions »
- Office paper flung all over the country »
- Pay it forward and get a recycled bargain on Buy It Back Day »
- Inspiring story: "Charging" up local battery recycling »
- Inspiring story: Making 3D printer parts from e-waste »
- Inspiring story: Building roads from cigarette butts »
- Inspiring story: Creating outdoor furniture from soft plastics »
- Inspiring story: Landscaping a garden bed from printer cartridges »
- 3 tips for businesses to buy recycled »
- There's still time for a Fling »
- We're bursting with ideas, events and activities to share with you for National Recycling Week »
- Why buying it back is good for business and the environment »
- What's so special about Naturale? »
- Take the Schools Recycle Right Challenge »
- Sunshine Coast sisters launch Australian-first sustainability project »
- What do Smiths, Kathmandu and Jurlique have in common? »
- Keep on recycling »
- Going plastic free: what does it take? »
- Free child car seat recycling trial »
- The Positive Results of the War on Waste »
- Australia's First Rescued Food Supermarket is a Win-win for the Planet and Those in Need. »
- Do you print on 100% recycled office paper? Epson does! »
- 14 Items You Can Recycle - But Probably Aren't (Part One) »
- Architecture Students and Refugees Build a Timber Community Centre for a Refugee Camp in Mannheim, Germany. »
- Australia's Tallest Engineered Timber Building to be Built in Brisbane »
- Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to Feature a Wooden Arena »
- Spotted Gum and Ironbark Feature in ICC Sydney »
- Construction to Commence on the Otago Polytechnic Student Village »
- WoodTek Headquarters - Taiwan's First CLT Building »
- Two More Wood Encouragement Policies Introduced in Western Australia »
- Kaikoura District Council Building Survives Major Earthquake Unscathed »
- Construction Commences on a 10-storey CLT Luxury Retirement Village in Sydney »
- Get Crafty this Christmas »
- National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life Launched »
- Low Carbon Football Stadium Made of Sustainably Sourced Wood »
- Planet Ark Launches 100% Recycled Office Paper »
- Planet Ark Launches 100% Recycled Office Paper »
- Win a YEAR'S SUPPLY of Naturale Toilet Tissue »
- Taking Shape - South Australia's First Timber Apartment Building »
- Canada Tops Out World's Tallest Wood-Frame Building »
- Post Back Your Post Packs »
- 5 Photos You Can Take to Help the Environment »
- Marist College, Bendigo Wins Sustainability Category in the 2016 Australian Timber Design Awards »
- New Nelson Airport to Showcase Engineered Wood »
- Construction Milestone for World's Tallest Mass Timber Building »
- East Gippsland Shire Council Adopts a Wood Encouragement Policy »
- Landmark Timber Skyscraper to be Built in Amsterdam »
- Community Garden Transformation Competition 2016 »
- Using Timber to Assist in the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy - A UN Report »
- First Shipment of CLT Arrives in Campbelltown »
- Community Garden Competition »
- Official Opening of the Centre for Future Timber Structures at UQ »
- Adding Trees - A Prescription for Health, Happiness and Fulfilment »
- Come and Join us at SEE Sustainable Experience »
- Keeping Warm for the Planet »
- World's Tallest Mass Timber Building Is Underway In Vancouver »
- Who Made the Top Ten Cartridge Recyclers »
- Cash For Containers In NSW - It Pays To Recycle »
- 57m Tall Timber Building Wins Competition In France »
- Fashionable Questions - Who Made Your Clothes and Where Do They End Up? »
- Maleny Wood Expo 20th Anniversary »
- Does Timber High-Rise Equal High Risk? »
- Four Eyes For Recycling »
- Norwegian Project Breaks Tall Wood Building Record »
- 2015 Australian Timber Design Award »
- New Code Allows for Eight-Storey Timber Buildings »
- Change Accelerates 'Wood First' Policies »
- Discount Tickets for 'dirtgirl's get grubby the musical' at the Opera House »
- Drink Coffee? Take our Coffee Recycling Survey »
- Re-Wrap It Up »
- What's In a Label? »
- Is it Gold For Australia? »
- Make Recycling at Work, Work »
- Let the Flings Begin »
- Recycling Role Models »
- Inspiring Performers »
- Help Save Safe Toilet Paper! »
- Planet Ark's new packaging tool a finalist in Banksia Sustainability Awards »
- Garage Sale Trailing Right Around Australia »
- Awake to the Fun of Recycling »
- Declutter Your Office E-waste for FREE »
- Power Tool Battery Recycling Pilot Launches in Brisbane »
- Reduce Your Pet's Paw Print »
- One House, Four Hours, Four Tonnes of Recycling »
- The art of upcycling »
- Clean Clothes for Sensitive Souls »
- PREP For Better Recycling »
- Turning Trash Into Treasure »
- Wood - A Growing Answer to Climate Change »