Australians are keen on a more sustainable future, but they remain confused about fundamental recycling practices. This is one of the key findings in Cleanaway’s recently released Recycling Behaviours Report, launched to support its new Greenius online education platform to help consumers get recycling right.
The report found that 89 per cent of Australians think recycling is important and 74 per cent say they are good at it. However, with only 25 per cent separating waste correctly at every opportunity and almost 50 per cent still putting soft plastics in kerbside recycling bins, further education is clearly needed.
Cleanaway NSW Sustainability Manager, Rebecca Evered, said these findings reflect the consumer behaviour in municipal waste collection services, making the need for online education tools like Greenius more important than ever.
“We’re really encouraged by the support that recycling has in the community, and the public’s intention to do the right thing, but unfortunately, we’re losing a lot of valuable resource to landfill because people are unclear about what can go in the recycling bin,” Rebecca said.
“Greenius is a free, easy-to-use online learning platform designed to simplify recycling for all households. We know that most Aussies (57 per cent) rely on the internet for recycling advice, but they’re often met with conflicting, outdated information. Greenius is designed to give consumers simple and consistent tips to get it right, every time.”
Greenius Ambassador and Clean Up Australia Chairman, Pip Kiernan, said the research proved the importance of Greenius as a tool to help educate all Australians to improve recycling recovery rates.
“It’s the small changes in our habits that will make all the difference. Up to 35 per cent of recycling is still being lost to landfill due to contamination. We know there is a lot of “wish-cycling” going on, with people hoping that what they put in the bin can be recycled at the other end, but actually that’s part of the problem. Good recycling can be ruined when people put the wrong thing in. If every person focused on removing soft plastic, food, liquid and textiles from their recycling we’d resolve more than 50 per cent of all current recycling contamination,” Pip said.
“With the extension of our partnership with Cleanaway, we can continue to help Australians learn about sustainability and recycling through hands-on experiences so they can be part of the solution to treat waste as a resource, not something that ends up in landfill.”
The e-learning platform developed by Cleanaway takes users on a recycling journey through gamification, videos, animations and quizzes, and is easily accessed via mobile device or desktop.
Through education and easy-to-implement tips, Greenius aims to motivate people to facilitate and accelerate the transition to a circular economy, demonstrating how the small actions and changes we make every day can have lasting impacts for years to come.
Rebecca said that while the education tool is ideal for students and families, it’s designed to meet the needs of all Australians.
“Our research has uncovered one in four parents don’t find it easy to teach their kids about recycling and nearly one third of Australians still find recycling confusing. Different regulations between councils and uncertainty around what can and can’t be recycled can be really tricky to navigate,” she said.
“On the bright side, we think users will be really surprised by how easy some of the universal recycling rules are to apply – and Greenius is here to empower people to make the right decisions when it comes to disposing of everyday household waste.”
“The Recycling Behaviours Report found that only 15 per cent of Australians are familiar with the concept of a ‘circular economy’ – an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and keeping resources in continual use.”
“Individuals, communities, government and businesses alike are all contributors to building a circular economy in Australia. And while it may sound complicated, it’s just about being more mindful of how we choose and dispose of the materials we use.”
Cleanaway has undertaken a range of best practice sustainable waste management activities to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
The Greenius platform is a more recent initiative supported by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) that extends its commitment to educational activities designed to improve recycling behaviour.
CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth, said: “The CEFC is excited to work with Cleanaway to develop this innovative national education platform. By explaining how recycling works and pointing out some of the common mistakes we make when sorting our rubbish, Greenius can help us improve our emissions reduction efforts.”
“Cleanaway’s commitment to reducing the amount of waste going to landfill demonstrates best practice in the efficient use of resources. By applying the principles of the waste hierarchy and prioritising recycling over disposal or landfill, everyone can contribute positively to creating a circular economy and reducing landfill emissions.”
The Recycling Behaviours Report and Greenius household education platform were made possible thanks to Cleanaway’s partnership with the CEFC.
Cleanaway’s Recycling Behaviours Report key findings:
• 89 per cent of Australians consider recycling to be important
• 74 per cent say they’re good at recycling
• Only 25 per cent of Aussies always separate their waste into the appropriate bins at home, at work, and when out in public
• 47 per cent incorrectly believe soft plastics can be put in the kerbside recycling bins
• 21 per cent don’t realise you need to remove lids from plastic bottles before recycling
• 53 per cent of Aussies wrongly think a pizza box with greasy stains can be recycled or composted
• 17 per cent wrongly think recycling can be sealed in a plastic bag in the kerbside bin
• Only 15per cent of Aussies are familiar with the concept of the circular economy
• 29 per cent of adults still find recycling confusing
• Self-rated recycling abilities increase with age:
• 65 per cent of 18-34-year-olds say they’re good or very good recyclers
• 74 per cent of 35-54 year-olds say they’re good or very good recyclers
• 82 per cent of 55+ year-olds say they’re good or very good recyclers
Parents and Children
• 86 per cent of children learn about recycling at school
• 84 per cent of kids learn about recycling from their parents
• 29 per cent of kids learn about recycling online
• 77 per cent of children consider recycling very important
• 47 per cent of kids think children are better at recycling than adults
• 25 per cent of parents say it’s not easy to teach their kids about recycling
• An online survey was conducted with 1,000 Australians, including a sub-audience of 293 parents of children aged 8-18. These parents were asked to allow their children to complete a shorter survey once the parents had completed their own.
• Surveys were completed between Friday, 27 November 2020 and Monday, 7 December 2020.
• The data was weighted to be representative of the Australian population with respect to gender and age.