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Everything SMEs need to know about the Australasian Recycling Label

This month the Australian Government released its first National Plastics Plan, setting out an exciting new approach for how Australia will tackle the plastic waste challenge. The Plan also highlighted a range of important sustainability deadlines that Australian small businesses need to be aware of and taking action in, including the Australasian Recycling Label, a recycling labelling program available in Australia and New Zealand. Here is an overview of everything SMEs need to understand about the program and how they can get involved with this exciting sustainability initiative.

What is the Australasian Recycling Label Program?
The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) Program is an on-pack labelling scheme that helps consumers to recycle correctly and supports businesses to design packaging that can be recycled. The Program was developed by an organisation called APCO in partnership with Planet Ark and PREP Design and is endorsed by all Australian governments to help make recycling easier.

The ARL Program features two main parts:

The Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) – an online tool that assesses if an item of packaging can be recycled in the Australian and New Zealand recovery systems.
The Australasian Recycling Label – an on-pack label that provides clear and simple instructions about how to recycle all of the individual parts of a piece of packaging (e.g. tub, lid, wrapper).
Since launching in 2018, more than 500 organisations have joined the program, including many of Australia’s best-known brands and retailers. Already tens of thousands of iconic household products feature the ARL and are helping Australians to recycle correctly.

What are the benefits of using the ARL?
With so many competing deadlines and priorities, for time-poor small business owners sustainable packaging can feel like somewhat of an after-thought. However, the impact of packaging on Australia’s beautiful natural environments is a growing concern for consumers. Research consistently shows that consumers expect businesses to be taking active steps to improve their packaging sustainability – and that they will support those businesses with their purchasing decisions at the cash register.

The ARL Program is an easy-to-use approach that helps businesses meet this growing demand from customers, staff and suppliers. It also provides tangible and evidence-based approach to meeting your sustainability requirements, without needing to be a packaging expert.

ARL Program Members also gain access to a wealth of marketing tools and resources through APCO’s National Consumer Education Campaign. This includes the Check It! Before You Chuck It resource toolkits, designed to help members communicate to their consumers that they are using the ARL Program and helping them to recycle correctly.

When do businesses need to start using the ARL and how can they get started?
The Australian Government has committed to work with the industry to apply the ARL on at least 80 per cent of supermarket products by December 2023. The labelling program will also be rolled out for business-to-business packaging, with the government also committing to work with APCO to support ARL uptake by SMEs.

APCO has a range of resources, tools and publications designed to help businesses get started on their ARL journey. These include webinars, training videos, style guides and case studies.

Brooke Donnelly, CEO, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation

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