EARTH FIRST: How you can help close the loop on recycling

SURPRISING USES: Products that can be made from our recycling include wallets made from inner tubes and surfboard fins made from plastic.
SURPRISING USES: Products that can be made from our recycling include wallets made from inner tubes and surfboard fins made from plastic.

Australia's population continues to rise, and with it our level of waste. Because of this, recycling is more important than ever. However, recycling is only part of the battle.

The residents and businesses of the Australian community can also contribute by purchasing products that contain recycled content.

In the 20 years to 2015, Australia's population increased by 28 per cent and waste levels grew by 170 per cent. Fortunately, appropriately used, recycling is now in a position to cope with the waste we generate.

What happens to those materials once they have been recycled, and how everyone contributes to the process is a key focus of this year's National Recycling Week Campaign.

We live in what is known as a linear economy, which relies on a process which can be described as “make, use, dispose.” This is not a sustainable model.

To move to a more sustainable future, we need to move towards a “recycle, reuse and re-purpose” model that keeps important materials from being wasted in landfill. This process is known as the circular economy.

Ryan Collins, Planet Ark's Recycling Programs Manager, is quoted as saying “since the introduction of kerbside recycling in the 1980s and 90s, Australians have really embraced recycling.

But to truly close the recycling loop, and keep valuable resources like plastic, metal and paper in circulation and out of landfills, we need to buy back the products that have been made from our recycling.”

Most Australians are aware of products that can be made with recycled materials such as office paper, toilet tissue and paper towels, but they are less aware of other products that can be made with recycled materials such as road surfaces, printer cartridges, paving and carpet underlay.

This year Planet Ark is launching Buy it Back Day, Saturday, November 18, the aim of which is to encourage the community to celebrate National Recycling Week through mindful purchasing of second-hand or buying a product made from recycled materials.