New report reveals packaging labels key to consumers recycling right

Subject: ARL

9 June 2021

A new report into consumer insights has today revealed that 76% of Australians think that recycling is the most positive thing they can do for the environment and that the first place they turn to for accurate information about how to recycle right is the labelling on their product packaging (51%). 


The report, Australasian Recycling Label Consumer Insights Report 2021 by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and Planet Ark, was developed to better understand attitudes and behaviours towards recycling. It also showed that the majority of Australians want more information about what can and can’t be recycled, and that more than half check the labelling on their packaging multiple times before recycling to make sure that they are recycling correctly.


Rebecca Gilling, Planet Ark Deputy CEO, says the findings highlight just how much importance Australians place on putting the right packaging in the right bin and why programs like the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) are so important.


“We’re really encouraged to see how passionate Australians are about recycling and developing positive recycling behaviours. Product packaging is the first place that Australians look for recycling information and this tells us that if products display accurate and easy to follow recycling instructions, consumers will be able to recycle with greater confidence,” Gilling said.


“Initiatives like the ARL provide accurate on-pack instructions about how to recycle each part of a product’s packaging, taking the confusion out of recycling and giving Australians the confidence to know that they are recycling right. So keep checking it before you chuck it!"


The need for correct packaging recycling labelling is critical and led to the development of the ARL, the only evidence-based, on-pack label that clearly shows Australians how to correctly recycle and dispose of all parts of their packaging after use. Since its launch in 2018, the ARL Program has gained widespread support from government and industry, and most recently the Federal Budget allocated $5 milllion in additional funding to support small to medium enterprises to adopt the label.

The report shows that awareness of the ARL has grown significantly (up by 16% year on year), with awareness highest among younger Australians, 16-24 year olds (82%), 25 – 34 year olds (79%), 35 – 44 year olds (78%). One in five Australians also indicated that they would recycle a lot more if the ARL was on their product packaging and three quarters want to see the label on every item of packaging.

Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO, says: “From casting their vote at the cash register to the individual choices we make at the bin, consumers can play a powerful role in improving Australia’s approach to waste and recycling. Everyone, including industry, government and consumers, is vital to creating cleaner waste streams in Australia, while understanding attitudes and beliefs is crucial to getting everyone to recycle more and to recycle better.

“The ARL Program continues to go from strength to strength, passing the 500th Member milestone, being widely recognised in the Australian Government’s National Plastics Plan and highlighted by the UN Environment Programme as a best practice example of consumer labelling. For Australian businesses the message is clear: there has never been a better time to be involved,” concludes Donnelly.






Holly Simpson

Horizon Communication Group

02 8572 5600

0498 213 833



The Australasian Recycling Label Program is an on-pack labelling scheme that helps consumers to recycle correctly and supports businesses to correctly design for, label and communicate about packaging recyclability. The ARL Program was developed in 2018 by APCO (Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation), Planet Ark and PREP Design. Since the launch of the label in September 2018, more than 500 organisations have joined the ARL Program, including many of Australia’s best-known brands and retailers, with tens of thousands of products already carrying the label in market.


For more information about the ARL:



Planet Ark Environmental Foundation is an Australian not-for-profit organisation with a vision of a world where people live in balance with nature. Established in 1992, it is one of Australia’s leading environmental behaviour change organisations with a focus on working collaboratively and positively. Planet Ark promotes and creates simple, positive environmental actions – for everyone.



APCO is a not-for-profit organisation leading the development of a circular economy for packaging in Australia. APCO is the agency charged by government to deliver Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets and make all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. To achieve this goal, APCO is working closely with government and industry to deliver a range of sustainable design, recycling, waste to landfill reduction and circular economy projects. Recognised as one of Australia’s leading product stewardship organisations with a strong national and global collaborative network, APCO is committed to reducing the environmental impact of packaging on Australian communities by moving towards a circular economy.


For more information about APCO: