Australians embrace a circular economy to reduce waste and to help sick kids

AUSTRALIA’S recycling rate has increased by 53 per cent in the last 25 years as more people embrace the circular economy by repairing, repurposing and reusing pre-loved and unwanted goods.

Since National Recycling Week was founded in 1996, the recycling rate in Australia has increased from 7 per cent to 60 per cent.

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves the sharing, leasing, refurbishing and recycling of items and products for as long as possible in an effort to tackle waste and pollution.

In June, Planet Ark, the founder of NRW, joined forces with online marketplace Gumtree Australia to educate Australians about the importance of sustainable consumer practices.

Planet Ark’s chief executive officer Paul Klymenko said the partnership will further the understanding of the environmental benefits of reusing and repairing goods, whilst encouraging consumers to adopt a positive behavioural shift towards reuse and repair.

“It’s fantastic to see a business as well-loved as Gumtree commit to educating Australians on how they can adopt more sustainable practices through engaging with the circular economy via their reuse platform,” Mr Klymenko said.

Gumtree Australia’s managing director Mark Kehoe said the partnership reflected the organisation’s commitment to being a leader in the circular economy space.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with Planet Ark as a first step in affirming Gumtree’s role within the reuse phase of the circular economy.

“For over 14 years we’ve been helping Australia upgrade to a better life, and now seven million people use Gumtree every month to successfully embrace responsible living, conscious consumerism and quality choices,” Mr Kehoe said.

This year, National Recycling Week is bringing reuse into focus through exciting initiatives such as ‘Save Our Furniture’.

The competition aims to inspire people to get creative and upcycle old and used furniture into new unique pieces rather than sending it to landfill.

Planet Ark’s deputy chief executive officer Rebecca Gilling said new research recently conducted by the environmental organisation shows an overwhelming majority of Australians agree recycling is the right thing to do and is good for the environment.

“We hope to see these attitudes translate into positive action,” Ms Gilling added.

According to the research, Australians are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about items that can contaminate recycling, including soft plastics, bagged recyclables, and clothing.

An additional 1.5 million Australians now know how to keep soft plastics out of the recycling bin in 2021 compared to 2019.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation is launching Containers 4 Kids during National Recycling Week. (Image Credit: Starlight Children’s Foundation.)

Launching during NRW, the Starlight Children’s Foundation’s Containers 4 Kids recycling initiative is encouraging communities in New South Wales to donate the proceeds from recycling eligible beverage containers.

NSW environment minister Matt Kean said that from November to April 2022 anyone can donate to the campaign at any Return and Earn vending machine to help raise $250,000 for the children’s charity.

“We’re encouraging NSW recyclers to return their bottles and cans and donate their funds to help brighten the lives of sick kids,” Mr Kean said.

Donations will go towards cheering up children like three-year-old Aru who needed a lifesaving heart transplant just before her first birthday.

Currently undergoing treatment for the post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PLTD), Aru’s life is now centred around the hospital.

Captain Starlight’s visits are always a “stress-buster” for Aru and her parents.

Chief executive officer of Starlight, Louise Baxter, said that Starlight has always been there for sick kids throughout the difficult challenges of the past 18 months.

“Only with the help of the community, and our valued partners such as Return and Earn, (recycling company) TOMRA, and Cleanaway can we continue to bring happiness to sick kids when they need it most,” Ms Baxter said.

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Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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