By Lottie Dalziel
Recycling in Australia is difficult and often confusing. Whilst recycling isn't the solution, the choices we make do make a difference. So when you're at the supermarket choosing a product on environmental impact here is the hierarchy of recycling in Australia for the most common types of packaging (glass, paper, plastic and aluminium), from my research.
Last place: Plastic
Plastic ain't so fantastic, it is light-weight and cheap which is why it is a go-to for so many companies. 90% of the plastic that is produced is virgin plastic with the UN estimating that plastic production will be responsible for 20% of global oil consumption by 2050.
Whilst you can recycle hard plastics via your local council bins and soft plastics through REDcycle only 9.4% of plastic is actually recycled. The other issue is that recycled polyethylene terephthalate or rPET the fibre that is the result of recycling plastic is weaker and energy-intensive, requiring 88% of the energy needed to create virgin plastic.
When it comes to paper recycling Australia are one of the leaders, recycling 87% of paper into products such as office printing paper, paper towels, toilet paper, greeting cards and so much more.
Glass is infinitely recyclable, meaning that it can be remade into new products of high-quality feeding into a circular economy. In Australia we use 1.36 million tonnes of glass packaging each year, to be recycled glass is sorted into its respective colours: clear, brown or green which is why you won't see a large variety of options available.
When it comes to recycling in Australia aluminium is our winner. Not only is it infinitely recyclable it is lightweight and 75% of the aluminium made is still in use today. Recycling aluminium also requires very little energy-saving 90-95% of the energy needed to make aluminium from bauxite ore.
For more information watch this video.
About the author
Lottie Dalziel is the founder and editor in chief of Banish. She has a passion for the environment and wants to help educate and inspire individuals to make small changes towards a more sustainable future. Stay up to date with her latest challenges on Instagram @banish.au.