Australians care about recycling and the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) is helping us get better at it.
The ARL provides consumers with easy-to-understand on-pack recycling information that removes confusion, saves time and reduces the amount of waste going to landfill.
The label has easy-to-understand instructions about how to dispose of each part of a product’s packaging correctly.
The label was developed by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation in partnership with Planet Ark and PREP Design.
You can find the label on the packaging of tens of thousands of products across Australia, including on many well-known household brands.
The ARL provides clear instructions on which parts of a product’s packaging can go in the recycling bin and which should be put in the rubbish bin.
One way to help you recycle correctly is to follow the phrase, ‘If in doubt, leave it out’. Unfortunately, when we put something that can't be recycled in the recycling bin, it contaminates our recycling systems and makes it more expensive to process. If you’re not sure if an item can be recycled, don’t put it in the recycling bin.
The ARL has three variations (from left to right):
Recyclable: The coloured solid recycling symbol means that this packaging can be placed in the recycling bin as it is. Each piece of packaging with this label must be placed separately in the recycling bin.
Conditionally Recyclable: The clear/ transparent recycling symbol means you must follow the instructions to recycle this packaging component. If you don’t follow the instructions, then it must go in the rubbish bin, otherwise it won’t be recycled and cause contamination to the recycling stream.
Not Recyclable: The bin symbol means that this piece of packaging is not recyclable and you must place it in the rubbish bin. It can’t be placed in the recycling bin because it won’t get recycled and will contaminate the recycling stream.
Find out more about the ARL.
The Australian Government has invested $5 million to support 20,000 small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to improve the sustainability of their packaging and adopt the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) on their packaging through the SME ARL Program.
The funding is being delivered over 3 years to a partnership of key industry bodies being led by APCO. The partnership includes the National Retail Association, the Australian Institute of Packaging and the Australian Food and Grocery Council.
The Program will help SMEs improve the sustainability of their packaging, apply accurate recycling information and communicate with their customers about how to recycle their packaging.
In 2022, APCO launched the ARL Marketplace. The Marketplace is an educational platform helping SMEs access a range of free educational tools, resources and events designed to empower them to take action to improve the sustainability of their packaging.
Another valuable resource under the Program, the Packaging Impact Calculator is a simple and free online tool to educate SMEs on the environmental impacts of packaging design decisions.
Over the next 2 years, the SME ARL Program will deliver streamlined processes and tools to make it easier for SMEs to assess the recyclability of their packaging and apply the ARL.
Find out more at ARL Marketplace.
Container Deposit Schemes
Container Deposit Schemes (CDS) provide a financial incentive to consumers to return beverage containers. CDS keeps litter out of our environment, reduces the cost of kerbside collection and sorting, and provides industry with a reliable source of clean, high value waste materials that can be reprocessed into new products.
Australia will demonstrate its global leadership in resource recovery and circularity by being the first to operate CDS across the entire continent.
While the Australian Government doesn’t operate a CDS, we support the schemes established across the states and territories as an effective way to reduce litter and increase resource recovery. Schemes are currently operational in all jurisdictions except Victoria and Tasmania, where they will be established over the next year.