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Recycling Targets: How small businesses in Australia can play their part

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Though the climate crisis is affecting the world over, Australia and its businesses have often been on the front line of the battle, with thousands losing their homes in the bushfires that burned through late 2019 and early 2020.

This has brought climate action to the forefront of the minds of many small business owners, who are working out ways to help the country hit its climate targets, including the extremely important 2025 Recycling Targets.

What are recycling targets?

Set in 2018, the 2025 Recycling Targets state that all packaging made and sold in Australia needs to be 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable, with 70% of plastic packaging recycled or composted. The targets originally stated that 30% of packaging should be made from recycled content, although this was raised to 50% in 2020. The use of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging should also be phased out by 2025.

This means small businesses across the country are more than likely going to have to:

  • Change what types of packaging they buy for their products

  • Increase how much packaging they recycle on site

  • Remove the majority of their single-use plastic packaging

For some businesses, this might seem a huge ask, while others will already be packaging in an eco-friendly manner and won’t need many redirections. The targets have been set to reduce waste across the country, but environmental groups like the Boomerang Alliance want to see higher targets in shorter timeframes.

Why are they important?

From the United Nations to the European Union, organizations across the globe are setting their own recycling, carbon neutral, and fossil fuel reduction targets to slow down climate change. Recycling targets contribute to this as the practice saves energy and carbon emissions in comparison to taking waste to a landfill and burning it in an incinerator.

Increasing recycling also creates green jobs and contributes to the green economy.

How can small businesses do their bit?

Small businesses can do their bit in two key ways: increasing their paper and cardboard recycling and reducing their use of plastic.

To increase paper and cardboard recycling, small businesses can enroll themselves in recycling schemes, invest in affordable and suitable recycling balers from to make their paper waste more compact and easily transportable for recycling, offer their staff incentives for recycling more, and having large, handy and easy to empty recycling bins across their premises.

As Forbes outlined in an article about corporations going plastic-free, plastic recycling is a stickier subject for some recycling companies. Occasionally they get exposed for not actually recycling the plastic they receive at all but instead sending it to landfill. This means the most effective way to reduce plastic waste is to cut it out from your business operations as much as possible.

This means stopping buying products or ingredients that arrive in large amounts of single-use plastic – being aware of ordering from overseas where packaging laws aren’t as strict – as well as halting the use of single-use plastics in their own packaging and finding more environmentally friendly alternatives.


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