Aussies got greener during Covid era, research shows

Irene Dong

Irene Dong

@crystalmariesing via Twenty20

New data from Cleanaway has revealed that Aussies are more concerned about the environment and the amount of waste since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cleanaway’s 2022 Recycling Behaviours Report records that 41 per cent of Australians said the pandemic made them more concerned about the environment and 44 per cent reported it gave them more chances to do sustainable practices.

According to the report, more people are seeking sustainable brands and start to grow veggie patches at home. However, the majority of Aussies “still aren’t familiar with the concept of a circular economy”.

“The pandemic, while challenging, gave a lot of Aussies time to reflect and reset their recycling behaviours, and we’re really pleased to see it has sparked some promising changes in the way we think about waste,” said Cleanaway sustainability manager, Rebecca Evered.

“For a notable amount of people, this means considering what they can do to better our environment, whether it be through the choices they make when shopping, improving their recycling habits or limiting the amount of waste they’re producing.”

In addition, although the survey shows positive results, Australians are still confused about fundamental recycling practices. Only 29 per cent of people are correctly disposing of soft plastic packaging in specialised recycling and nearly half of the people don’t know how to deal with bubble wrap as well as polystyrene and styrofoam.

“These types of soft plastics are particularly problematic as they break apart in processing and contaminate good recycling or get caught in machinery which causes breakdowns and inhibits our ability to process recycling,” Evered added.

The report also unveiled that 73 per cent of Aussies said they separate their waste correctly in public, while 72 per cent when on holidays. Both are lower than when at home, which was about 90 per cent of people.

“Of course, we are more likely to focus on good recycling when we’re at home than out in public or on holiday as routine goes hand-in-hand with recycling for many people,” said Pip Kiernan, Clean Up Australia chairperson.

“Yet it’s important that healthy recycling habits don’t take a holiday when we’re away from home – a good reminder as we gear up to the Easter break.”

The impact of different shopping behaviours was also illustrated in the report as the number of people looking for minimal packaging and sustainable products when shopping in-store is higher than when shopping online.

“Our report revealed older Aussies as the country’s real eco-champs, exercising better recycling behaviours when compared with their younger counterparts. While a promising 78 per cent of people aged over 55 separate their waste every time when disposing of it at home, this decreases to 65 per cent among 35-54-year-olds and only 45 per cent of 18-34-year-olds,” said Rebecca.

With the aim of providing education and raising awareness about environmental problems, Cleanaway is encouraging Australians to visit its Recycling Hub for information about how to dispose of or recycle items as well as using its free education tool Greenius.

Irene Dong

Irene Dong

Irene Dong is a graduate of Ho Chi Minh City University of Foreign Languages and Information Technology with a major in international relations, specialising in public relations, communications, and media. An aspiring writer she has a passion for fashion, sustainability, and languages.


Subscribe – it's free