Since its launch in 2018, over 300 companies have committed to redesigning their on-pack communications to include the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) to ensure consumers understand the true recyclability of all packaging components made in Australia and Australia will be disposed of New Zealand.
By Nerida Kelton, Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Packaging.
To date, more than 10,000 SKUs are using the ARL On-Pack, and the momentum is increasing as companies sign up for the Australasian Packaging Recycling Label program every day.
The companies come from a wide variety of industries and include early adopters such as Nestlé, Officeworks, Australia Post, Blackmores, Unilever, Coles and Woolworths. A number of companies are ready and waiting for the next product or packaging change.
What is the Australasian Packaging Recycling Label Program?
The Australasian Packaging Recycling Label Program is a labeling program that provides designers and brand owners with the tools to educate responsible packaging technologists and designers, and to help consumers understand how to properly dispose of packaging. Led by APCO, in partnership with Planet Ark and PREP Design, the program aims to significantly reduce consumer confusion, increase recycling recovery rates and contribute to cleaner recycling streams. The two elements of the program are the PREP (Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal) and the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL).
What makes the program unique is the PREP tool component, which provides packaging technologists and designers with the correct information about whether their packaging format is recyclable in most roadside house collection systems and how it is handled and reclaimed by the material recovery facilities (MRFs). The PREP tool also indicates if there are other closed loop recycling systems that the majority (80%) of the population have access to, i.e. soft plastic that is returned to a Coles or Woolworths store through the REDcycle program can be.
The PREP tool then works hand in hand with the second part of the process, the ARL program. The ARL symbol indicates how the MRF recognizes materials, inks, weight, shape, adhesives and how each component is performing in the recycling ecosystem in Australia and New Zealand.
Using the data records from the PREP tool, the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) then identifies the correct symbols to be used on the packaging for all components of the product, e.g. B. lid, tray, cap, bottle, box, foil, etc. This is not possible. A piece of packaging with the Australasian Recycling Label without a PREP rating, which proves disposal claims.
The ARL is an evidence-based standardized labeling system for Australia and New Zealand that provides clear and consistent recycling information on the packaging to inform consumers about the correct disposal method. Since the packaging consists of separable components, each of which can be recycled differently, the ARL identifies each item as either recyclable, conditionally recyclable or non-recyclable.
Recyclable: This label tells the consumer that the specific roadside packaging component identified is recyclable.
Conditionally recyclable: This label tells the consumer that there is another destination that allows recycling. The label states that the specific packaging component either requires action to be categorized as roadside recyclable or that an alternative recycling decision is required.
Examples of conditionally recyclable material are labels that state that the bottle must be crushed and the cap replaced, rinsed and put down, only at transfer stations, flattened for recycling, shredded into a ball, separated for recycling, placed in a used envelope, Handles removed and returned to warehouse.
Not recyclable: This label tells the consumer that the separable packaging component on the roadside is not recyclable and must be disposed of with general waste.
The ARL symbols used on the packaging, in turn, help consumers understand which packaging components should go in the trash or general rubbish bin, or which parts should be returned to a Coles or Woolworths store in Australia using the soft plastic collection bins.
As consumers become more aware of the ARL symbols on packaging, they will gain confidence in the program and recognize that the labels are an important link to current recycling opportunities in Australia and New Zealand. The use of ARL symbols on packaging should, in turn, encourage consumers to take a more active role in the proper disposal of waste, thereby limiting contamination of our waste streams and keeping recyclable material out of landfill.
I know that when I see the ARL package, I get excited as I can finally understand which bin each component goes in, and I now make a conscious effort to separate each material and put it in the correct bin. The ARL is certainly a step in the right direction to better educate consumers about the actual recyclability of materials and to encourage improved consumer recycling behavior. If your company has not yet enrolled in the Australasian Packaging Recycling Label program, we encourage you to speak to APCO today.
The Australian Packaging Institute (AIP) has also developed a series of training courses that will greatly aid your journey towards sustainable packaging, including "Tools to Achieve National Packaging Goals 2025: PREP and ARL", "Introduction to Sustainable Packaging Design", "Tools for Assessment of the life cycle for sustainable packaging design "," Flexible packaging: now and in the future "," Plastics technology: introduction to polymers and recycling "," Implementation of sustainable packaging guidelines in your company "," Suitable, functional and sustainable "Labeling & # 39; and & # 39; The future of bioplastics and compostable packaging 'which are regularly carried out in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
About Nerida Kelton MAIP
Nerida Kelton MAIP is Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Packaging and ANZ board member of the World Packaging Organization. She is also a member of the International Packaging Press Organization (IPPO).
She has been in the packaging industry for over 22 years and holds a position on the Steering Committee of the National Ministry of Environment and Energy for Food Waste. She is AIP leader for the Save Food Packaging Consortium project at the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Center. She is committed to helping the packaging industry understand the role of packaging in minimizing food waste and supporting the recognition of brands who develop innovative Save Food packaging. Nerida is also passionate about educating and training packaging professionals about the importance of sustainable and circular packaging design and recognizing best practice in this area.
About the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP)
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) is the leading association for training and further education in packaging in Australasia. Assisting in shaping the careers of generations of packaging professionals – from packaging technologists to international executives in the packaging business to a wide variety of employees in related disciplines – sales and marketing, purchasing, production and the environment.
The AIP was founded in 1963 in response to the need for packaging technologists to interact and provide professional identities to individuals in the packaging industry. The AIP has been in the industry for over 55 years and is the only professional organization that enables professional and personal development at all levels of the packaging industry. The educational offer includes the diploma in packaging technology, the certificate in packaging, the master's in food and packaging innovation as well as the certified packaging professional.