Choose packaging that can be composted, recycled and

disposed correctly

Compostable packaging

Environmentally friendly packaging generally includes biodegradable, degradable and compostable materials. Compostable packaging, when safely disposed of, breaks down in a way that’s kinder to the environment than plastic. When disposed of in the right way, compostable packaging will return to earth quickly and safely.

If compostable packaging is not disposed of correctly, it will not disintegrate very well. For example, compostable plastic forks are made of thick plastic, and if put into landfill, take around 50 to 100 years to break down, which is similar to non-compostable plastic.

Compostable materials should be sent to compost containers and not landfills. 


Biodegradables, on the other hand, have other characteristics. First, it is important to know that not all biodegradable packaging is compostable.

According to Australia’s national science agency Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIRO), some plastics labelled as ‘biodegradable’ can be made from oxo-degradable plastics, a type of plastic that has a metal added to it that does not entirely break down.

It breaks down into small pieces, called microplastics. Microplastics are generally considered to be small plastic particles (less than about 5mm in size) and can travel great distances on oceans’ currents. These microparticles are eaten by fish, seabirds and other marine life, who often mistake it for food. Once eaten by aquatic animals, it can potentially become part of the human food chain. 

However, biodegradable plastics verified as ‘compostable’ help to move food waste from landfill for composting. Landfill is not the preferred disposal option for any organic matter, including biodegradable and compostable plastics, as they will act the same way in landfill as other organic matter.

Landfill conditions vary so much that it’s not possible to predict how long it will take for biodegradable/compostable plastic or a tomato to biodegrade.

Recycling packaging

The Australiasian Recycling Label (ARL) was introduced in Australia and New Zealand in 2018 to provide clear recycling guidelines for consumers.

The ARL packaging system indicates on the label which part of the product is recyclable and in which bin it must be disposed of. It was introduced to alleviate confusion and help Australians and New Zealanders to reduce recyclable packaging from going to landfill.

ARL is endorsed by the Australian government and has three types of labels: 

ARL is an evidence-based system supported by the Packaging Recyclability Assessment Portal (PREP).

Since not all packaging is created the same way, not all recycling labels must be equal. PREP evaluates not only the materials used in the manufacture of a packaging but also its shape, weight, size, inks, adhesives used and many other variables.

Its premise is that if more than 80 percent of the population with kerbside recycling can recycle an item, it is considered to be widely accepted. Where 60-80 percent of the population has access, this is considered less widely accepted and consumers may be asked to verify locally with their councils. If less than 60 percent of the population with kerbside recycling can recycle an item, it is considered below the recyclability limit and classified as non-recyclable.

So, look for products with the Australasian Recycling Label on the packaging.

To find out more about AR visit:

The Australasian Recycling Label

To find a recycler near you visit:

Find a recycler

However, as legislative requirements vary from state to territory; some councils claim that kerbside recycling bins can process recycled material themselves, while others rely on contractors. Thus, it is necessary to check how recycling is done in your region to find out how to proceed.

Some relevant links by state/territory:

Collected by the commercial establishment

Usually, deposit systems for bottles and other containers represent the major consumer-experience with reusable packaging, e.g. beer (although some brewers increasingly offer single-use glass bottles and cans), (carbonated) soft drinks and spring water(especially in countries that regulate the use of single-use containers, such as Denmark and Germany), and dairy. The systems often include crates for the bottles, although bottle labels and caps are singles-use.

Some packaging might have the new Australasian Recycling Label:

If your product has the Australasian recycle label, you will know which parts belong in the recycle bin, the rubbish bin or which items can be recycled if you follow the instructions.

For more information, visit:

Plastic Bags

Plastic bag pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues. Most Australian states have banned light-weight plastic bags, with NSW being the last state to ban bags.

If you want consistent legislation across Australia to reduce plastic pollution, visit the National Retail Association (NRA) Ban Bags website here to contact the NSW Minister.

You can still purchase plastic bags, however buying reusable bags every time you shop causes serious harm to the environment.

Reusable Bags

It’s really easy to eliminate your plastic using reusable bags. By bringing a few reusable bags with you while you shop, you can make a significant difference. If you arrive at your grocery store without any reusable bags, refrain from buying them and buy a paper bag instead. Although paper isn’t the best solution, it’s recycled at a higher rate than plastic.

When it comes to reusable bags, there’s tonnes of options. But what’s the most eco friendly reusable bag? If the option is available, always chose a cotton bag. Nylon and polyester bags are okay to use, although are made from plastic. If you’re buying loose fruits and vegetables, use a reusable produce bag instead of a plastic bag. There’s plenty available online and they’re easy to wash if you need to.

10 tips to avoid plastic in the grocery store

Whenever you enter a grocery store no doubt you’ll notice huge amounts of packaging. Yes, sometimes packaging is needed to protect our food and reduce food waste, however here’s a few tips to help you avoid unnecessary packaging:

  • Buy unpackaged products whenever you can;
  • Bring your own veggie bags from home;
  • Buy in bulk if you can;
  • Choose glass over plastic;
  • Get your meat and cheese from the deli and ask to use your own container. Pre-packaged meat and cheese is usually packed in plastic or Styrofoam;
  • Stop buying water in bottles (buy your own water filtration system);
  • Buy carton packed products over plastic For example, buy laundry detergent or pasta in a box rather than a plastic container;
  • Avoid individually wrapped products;
  • Buy refills instead of buying new products each time. Refill containers are available for a variety of supplies. Although refill containers are often plastic, they don’t have spray heads and other bits of plastic, making them less production intense.

What else can you do to avoid unnecessary packaging?

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