Buy recycled products during National Recycling Week
As Australia’s population and waste levels continue to rise, recycling matters now more than ever — yet it is only part of the battle. That’s why Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week, to be held from 13–19 November, is this year highlighting how consumers and businesses can properly close the recycling loop by purchasing products that contain recycled content.
Currently the Australian manufacturing economy is predominantly linear, which can be summarised as ‘take, make, use and dispose’. A circular economy, on the other hand, replaces ‘dispose’ with ‘recycle, re-use and repurpose’ and keeps important materials from being wasted in landfill.
Planet Ark’s new guide, ‘What Goes Around: Why Buying Recycled Matters’, shows 88% of Australians already purchase products that contain recycled materials and 70% said they would be more likely to purchase products and/or packaging if they contained recycled materials. Most Australians also have high awareness of some products that can be made with recycled materials, including office paper (83%), toilet tissue (75%) and paper towels (78%). There is, however, less awareness about other products that can be made using recycled materials, such as road surfaces, printer cartridges, paving and carpet underlay.
“We’re actually surrounded by products made from our recycling, and people may be surprised by some of the recycled products out there, like wallets and purses made from tyre inner tubes; surfboard fins made from ocean plastic; eye glasses made from milk bottle lids; fencing made from printer cartridges; as well as shampoo bottles and shopping bags made from recycled PET plastic and even pet litter made from recycled paper,” said Ryan Collins, Planet Ark’s recycling programs manager.
“When consumers and businesses purchase products that are made from recycled materials, they create a demand for recycling, which supports Australian industry, allows new recycled manufacturing opportunities to flourish and creates jobs.”
National Recycling Week 2017 will also see the launch of Buy It Back Day on 18 November, a new annual event that encourages Australians to be mindful consumers by buying something second-hand or made from recycled materials. Consumers who want to find their closest Buy It Back venue should visit the National Recycling Week website, while stores that want to host a Buy It Back Day event can register to receive free promotional materials and an online event listing. Shoppers can show their support by sharing a photo of their Buy It Back Day purchases with the hashtags #BuyItBack and #NationalRecyclingWeek.
Australians can also take part in the Big Aussie Swap, giving participants the opportunity to update their wardrobes, bookshelves and bric-a-brac collections by swapping their unwanted items with friends, co-workers and other community members. Participants exchange good-quality but unwanted items like clothes, books, CDs, children’s toys, accessories and sporting equipment for tokens that are then used to ‘purchase’ pre-loved products that have been brought along by others.
People can attend the public events or also host their own swap party at home, work or school. Planet Ark’s Big Aussie Swap ‘How-To Guide’ has helpful advice on running a successful Swap session and useful resources such as invitations, swap tokens and signage. For more information, visit the Big Aussie Swap webpage or download the guide.
Also making a return is the Friday File Fling on 17 November, which is a fun, easy way to declutter your office. It’s as simple as registering your Fling and setting some time aside to go through and recycle files. This could be a fun Friday staff engagement activity with your co-workers, with your efforts rewarded with nibbles, drinks or even prizes for who ‘flings’ the most. Furthermore, Planet Ark is giving the chance to win five cartons of Planet Ark 100% Australian Recycled Paper to 20 workplaces that register for the Friday File Fling and submit their results.
Meanwhile, schools can take the Naturale Schools Recycle Right Challenge, which runs from 2 October to 17 November and is an opportunity for children of all ages to learn about responsible waste management and the environmental benefits of recycling. Teachers and students can participate in as many recycling-related activities as they like, including the School Recycling Games, art and craft activities using reclaimed materials, talks from waste or environmental education officers, compost and worm farming demonstrations, or the creation of a new recycling system for the school or classroom. Cool Australia and Planet Ark have even developed curriculum-aligned lesson plans for teachers to use during the challenge. One school or childcare centre from each state and territory will win a Replas outdoor seat made from recycled soft plastics worth $439, with three runners-up receiving a raised eWood garden bed, made from mixed plastics (computers, televisions, car parts and printer cartridges) by eWood Gardens.
Finally, everyone can test their waste knowledge with the online Recycle Right Quiz. All participants go into the draw to win one of 10 Plastic Free Starter Kits worth $84 donated by Biome, which includes a glass KeepCup, a five pack of Onya bags, a stainless steel straw and more. The quiz can be completed at http://recyclingweek.planetark.org/quiz/.
This year’s National Recycling Week ambassadors include Professor Veena Sahajwalla (Director SMaRT Centre, UNSW), Laura Wells (model, marine biologist, sustainable fashion advocate), James Treble (interior designer and upcycling guru), Costa Georgiadis (Gardening Australia) and Magdalena Roze (author, meteorologist and food waste warrior). For more information on the week’s activities, visit http://recyclingweek.planetark.org/.