Published On: July 24th, 2022

Australians Falling Short on Recycling Targets

In Australia, we’re lucky to call one of the most beautiful environments in the world, home. But unfortunately, we have very poor waste and recycling habits, which jeopardises our wildlife, natural environment and the lives of our future generations.
Of the 1.1M tonnes of Australian plastic packaging reportedly placed on the market, only 16% (179,000 tonnes) was recovered via recycling in 2021.*
Australia is likely to miss our 2025 target to recycle or compost 70% of plastic packaging. The latest report from the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) estimates that only 36% of plastic packaging will end up in recycling or compost by 2025*.
APCO also indicates that Australians are only recycling 4% of soft plastics used for food packaging. The rest is ending up in land fill, or finding its way into our oceans.*
Other items made from recyclable packaging are also making their way into landfill rather than being recycled properly, due to incorrect disposal by consumers and businesses. Only 68% of paper/cardboard, 60% of glass, 37% of wood and 56% of metal were reported as recycled in 2021 by APCO*.

Beach Litter

But why are we falling so far behind our target?

There are several reasons – poor education and habits, magnified by excessive consumerism, which has only been fuelled by the past two years of lockdowns as new lifestyles arose from the pandemic. With this came an immense increase in the medical equipment usage, home-shopping, food deliveries and personal hygiene. In fact, it is estimated that 8 million tonnes of extra plastic waste accumulated globally over the past two years. In Australia, the average accumulation of rubbish per person annually, moved from 2.7 tonnes to nearly 3 tonnes.

We hit the pause button on our push for sustainability, unable to attend second-hand markets, share keep-cups or find reusable bags at the supermarket. After decades of campaigns to change our behaviour, the importance of safety advice was the new clear message.

We now want to refocus our attention back towards a minimalist lifestyle and making more sustainable purchasing decisions So, for KAB Week 2022, we want to challenge you to improve your waste and recycling habits so that we can collectively get as close to our targets as possible. We need to change our behaviour now if we want to make a difference in the years to come. If you can do it for 1 week, you can continue this behaviour and implement it into your waste journey permanently!

Keep Australia Beautiful challenges you to Contain Your Waste for 1 week