The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) is an evidence-based standardised system that provides easy to understand disposal instructions for each part of a product’s packaging.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) developed labelling standards with Planet Ark and PREP Design. The label includes (see Figure 33):
- The name of the package component the label refers to
- Symbols to identify whether the component is recyclable, conditionally recyclable or not recyclable
- Recyclable label has filled recycling symbol
- Conditionally recyclable label has clear recycling symbol with written instructions (e.g. return to store)
- Non-recyclable label has clear bin symbol.
The second phase of the ARL includes a recycled content label to help drive consumer awareness and demand for products with recycled content and a compostability label to provide much needed clarity for these products. Organisations including Australia Post, Blackmores, Nestlé, Officeworks, Unilever, Coles and Woolworths have pledged their commitment to using the label. It was introduced in September 2018 and has since been adopted by more than 200 Australian organisations.
Underpinning the ARL is the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP). This analysis tool allows businesses to assess whether their product is recyclable through Australia’s kerbside recycling system. By evaluating the materials used, their associated environmental impacts and local access to recycling capability, the tool allows businesses to address problematic materials throughout the supply chain and shift to packaging that is recyclable during product development and redesign. Any business that pledges their commitment to the ARL gains access to the PREP.
Part of the labelling standard relates to recycling accessibility – a product can only be labelled as recyclable if more than 80% of the population has access for that item to be recycled through their local kerbside recycling system. Packaging NZ and WasteMINZ worked with the PREP tool developers to localise the labels for the Aotearoa New Zealand kerbside recycling system. However, since this work was completed, there have been many changes to kerbside recycling across Aotearoa New Zealand in response to unstable recycling markets. This includes a number of councils restricting the plastics they accept via kerbside collection to PET (#1) and HDPE (#2). Any changes to recycling accessibility need to be reflected in the PREP tool and resulting recycling labels. Therefore, the PREP tool and ARL could be implemented in Aotearoa New Zealand, but its full potential will only be realised when the kerbside recycling system is consistent and stable.