ACOR Report on Packaging Labelling

Subject: PREP, ARL, Labelling
20 August 2020

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) has today published a report discussing the standard of environmental labelling on packaging in Australia. The report has identified something that APCO and our partners at Planet Ark and PREP Design have long recognised - that Australia needs a clear, concise and evidenced based label placed on every product and packaging type sold into the Australian market. 

As the leading proponent for better environmental labelling in Australia, APCO welcomes robust discussion and feedback on the labelling issue. It’s fantastic to see key sectors within the packaging supply chain recognising the importance of labelling and we welcome their engagement and participation in the ARL Program moving forward.  

Report findings  

The report’s findings were developed using a random audit of products found on supermarket shelves. Its findings include:  

  • 88% of all packaging components are recyclable (this is consistent with APCO data)  
  • 40% of products contain some form of recycling labelling instruction  
  • 23% of products on supermarket shelves contain the Australasian Recycling Label 

After less than two years in market, we are excited to see the leadership and hard work of Australian industry being recognised, with the ARL featuring on approx. a quarter of all products on shelves. This is an incredible achievement within a short time frame.  

The ARL Program is growing rapidly and tracking well compared to similar programs being implemented globally. As of May 2020, 402 APCO Members (27% of the total APCO Membership) have joined the ARL Program, including many of Australia’s major household brands and retailers. In comparison, the United States’ How2Recycle Program (which began in 2012), reported 225 brand owner and retailer members across North America in 2019. Meanwhile the UK’s OPRL Program (which launched in 2009) reported 500 members in 2020.  

This year the Program was also recognised internationally as a world-leading consumer education initiative in a report from the UN Environment Programme, commended for its clarity, reliability and accessibility.  

The ARL – a nationally consistent solution  

The ARL Program has been free and available for all APCO Members since 2018 and APCO is looking forward to seeing the ARL on every packaging format as the Program grows over the coming years. Through the APCO Membership model, the Program is freely available to approximately 80% of the current supply chain, and as the Program develops and grows, we welcome anyone interested in the work to participate.  

Labelling is one of the critical success factors to support the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets. It is also one of APCO’s priority actions under the Federal Government’s 2019 National Waste Policy Action Plan (2.14 - Improve consumer information to increase recycling rates and improve the quality of materials in kerbside recycling collection through the Australasian Recycling Label).  

How APCO is building the Program  

The implementation of the ARL Program is a five-year journey and we will continue to invest significantly into building an evidence-based, trusted labelling Program. This includes:  

  • Providing transparent administrative and governance functions for the Program through the Marketing Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committees  
  • Building consumer awareness and interest in the label. The Program’s 2019 Benchmarking research found 48% of consumers currently claim to recognise the label, while 60% are either 'extremely' to 'very' interested in knowing more about the label  
  • Building awareness of the Program with communications and education: In 2019 the ARL was featured in 470 media articles – including Sunrise, Sky News, ABC Breakfast, The Conversation and The Project. In 2020 APCO will be delivering its new National Consumer Education Campaign in partnership with Planet Ark to continue to build the Program’s profile.   
Show your support 

This is a positive opportunity for all ARL Members and partners to show support for the program - and let their customers, suppliers and staff know the value of being part of Australia's leading labelling program. All of our ARL Program communications resources are available on the APCO website for download and we value your support:

Get in touch  

There has never been a better time to be part of the ARL Program. If you have any questions about the report or would like to find out more about the Program, please contact the Member Services Team on