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5 Surprising Facts About Recycling in Australia You Probably Didn’t Know

Monday, November 06, 2017 | Comments (0)

(This article is the second part of a 3-article series that looks at the current and future state of recycling and waste management in Australia and the rest of the world.) 

Each year, Australians generate nearly 48 million tonnes of trash, making us one of the highest producers of waste in the world. That would also mean that each person in the country generates a little over 2 tonnes of trash every year. 

But the question is, how much of this waste is recycled? Here are the facts.

Aluminium Recycling

Each year, Australians use over 3 billion aluminium cans. Like all aluminium products, aluminium cans are 100% recyclable. In fact, manufacturing new cans from recycled materials only requires 5 percent of the energy needed to make new cans. 

However, only 56 percent of cans are being returned for recycling even if 94 percent of Australian households have access to recycling facilities. Its a a completely avoidable problem given how aluminium is one of the few materials that can be recycled endlessly without any loss of quality.

E-Waste Recycling 

Electronic waste is fast becoming one of the biggest contributors to the worlds waste stream. As more consumers buy and dispose of electronic equipment, old and broken devices will naturally make their way to landfills.

In Australia, as much as 88 percent of the 4 million computers and 3 million television sets will end up in landfills, with fewer than 1 percent of the TVs and 10 percent of the computer and laptops ending up in recycling facilities nationwide.

Paper Recycling

Finally, some good news. Australian businesses and households are pretty efficient when it comes to recycling paper. In fact, Australia has an 87 percent recycling rate for paper and cardboardone of the worlds highest. 

But theres plenty of room for improvement, as Australians consume nearly 230 kilograms of virgin paper per person per year, leaving a significant carbon footprint and contributing to deforestation.

Glass Recycling

Like aluminium, glass can be recycled over and over again. The same glass found in your mason jar can be recycled infinitely to produce jars and bottles with the same quality.

But Australia still has a long way to go in terms of efficient glass recycling. During Clean Up Australia Day 2014, glass accounted for 12 percent of all collected rubbish. Still, things are looking up, what with Victoria having a recycling rate for glass of 76 percent in 2013 and 2014.

Battery Recycling

At present, Australia does not have a national recycling program for disposable or non-rechargeable batteries. This has led to the formation of the Australia Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI), a program composed of battery makers, recyclers, retailers, environmental groups, and government agencies, with the goal of promoting the safe collection and recycling of all batteries in the country.

The ABRI has its work cut out for it, as only 4 percent of disposable batteries are recycled each year in Australia.

Be sure to check back on the blog for part three of this article series on the state of recycling and waste management in Australia. As providers of reusable shopping bags, these issues are close to our hearts. To learn more about our sustainable product line, get in touch with the Smartbag team on our Contact Page

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