The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) is a recycling label that helps Australians and New Zealanders to recycle packaging appropriately in their local area.
The ARL is printed on packaging to demonstrate how a consumer can recycle, or dispose of certain packaging. There are 5 different labels:
Recyclable in kerbside recycling - can recycle in your kerbside recycling
Conditionally recyclable in kerbside recycling - can recycle in your kerbside recycling under select conditions
Drop Off Only - must be taken to a collection location
Check Locally - recyclability will differ based on your location
Not recyclable - must be disposed in general waste bins
Different types of the ARL
Recyclable in kerbside recycling.
When an item has this coloured recycling ARL it suggests that 80% of local councils accept this item for recycling. Therefore it is assumed safe for recycling in kerbside recycling. In the following example, the Bottle and Lid can be recycled in kerbside recycling.
Image: ARL example of Bottle and Lid on food packaging.
Conditionally recyclable in recycling systems.
When an item has the outlined recycling ARL with instructions it suggests that only 60-80% of local councils will accept this item for recycling given the specific instructions OR that the item will have to be taken to certain locations for specialised recycling. In the following example, foil is conditionally recyclable suggesting it has specific instructions to be recycled. The specific recycling instructions are to 'scrunch into a ball'.
Image: ARL example of recyclable and conditionally recyclable labels.
Drop Off Only.
When an item has the Drop Off Only ARL, it suggests that this item is hard to recycle in our kerbside bins and it must to be taken to a designated drop off point to be collected and recycled.
An example of this is outlined below. Paper cups can't be recycled in our kerbside recycling bins which is why it is labeled with the Drop Off Only ARL. The Drop Off Only ARL on paper cups will guide you to the closest Simply Cups recycling point where your cup will be turned into valuable products.
Image: ARL example of drop off only label printed on a paper cup.
Similarly to the Drop Off Only ARL, when an item has the location symbol ARL, it suggests that this item is hard to recycle and might not be accepted in certain councils. When this symbol has 'Check Locally' attached, it means that the item may be recyclable so you must check with your local council or on arl.org.au to find out recyclability options.
An example of the check locally ARL, will be found most commonly on soft plastic. This will include plastic bags, food wrappers, chip bags, produce bags and more.
Image: Example of an item (soft plastic) that is recognised under the new check locally ARL.
When an item has the not recyclable label it suggests that the item cannot be recycled in kerbside recycling.
In the following example, the bag is not recyclable.
Image: ARL example of non-recyclable label.
How do products get the label?
The ARL is managed by Australian Packaging Covent Organisation (APCO). APCO have a very strict and lengthly tool called the PREP tool which assesses packaging items to see what labels they should get. The PREP tool considers materials that make the packaging, colourants and inks used, what adhesives have been used, the weight and size of the packaging and the shape. All these things impact a products ability to be recycled, and how to recycle it.