Aussies underestimate economic value of recycling, study finds

Up to 80 per cent of Aussies don’t realise the economic value of recycling.

Up to 80 per cent of Australians don’t realise the value of recycling to the national economy – approximately $15.5 billion[1] – compared to just 8 per cent who do, 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, our motivations differ.

For the older generation, 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.

The new data comes as part of Planet Ark’s National Recycling week, returning in 2020 from 9-15 November with the theme “Recovery – A Future Beyond the Bin”.

The campaign aims to highlight the important role resource recovery can occupy in our 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. The majority of councils we surveyed reported increased volumes of general waste in kerbside bins as a result of COVID-19,” said Planet Ark Deputy CEO, Rebecca Gilling.

“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. 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 also released a new National Recycling Week Resource Hub, the action-based “A Future Beyond the Bin” mini guide and many educational activities and online events.

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