Australians Driven by Cost Savings in Sustainable Behaviours, Reveals Independent Company Report

Australians are increasingly prioritising cost savings over environmental concerns when it comes to sustainable behaviours. According to the 2023 Recycling Behaviours Report by an independent company, the rising cost of living has shifted the focus for many, with a significant majority opting to repair and buy secondhand items primarily to save money. This trend underscores a broader movement towards sustainability driven by financial motivations.

What the report reveals on Waste Management

Eight in 10 Australians are opting to repair items rather than replace them, and six in ten are buying secondhand, motivated primarily to save money rather than by environmental concerns.

When it comes to recycling, despite most people (90 per cent) considering it important, we’re becoming increasingly confused. A lack of understanding is leading to simple sorting errors, with more than half of us (62 per cent) not correctly placing takeaway coffee cups in the general waste bin!

The independent company has released the findings of its 2023 Recycling Behaviours Report, revealing that many sustainable behaviours are being driven by saving money, as the rising cost of living trump’s climate change as a concern for more than three-quarters of us (79 per cent).

Among those who are buying things secondhand, three in four (75 per cent) are doing so to save money compared to only 41 per cent who are doing it to reduce their environmental impact. Forty two per cent of this group increased or started this habit in 2022 and saving money is also the most common motivator for people who repair items over replacing them.

Results found more than one third of people (38 per cent) still find recycling confusing, an increase of nine per cent from 2021, while nearly half (44 per cent) say it’s hard to find clear instructions. Of more concern, a massive four in five Australians (81 per cent) misidentified a common recycling symbol, with serious implications for kerbside recycling.

The report also lifts the lid on our everyday recycling behaviours, proving we’re still getting simple sorting wrong despite our good intentions. More than half of us (53 per cent) incorrectly dispose of takeaway coffee cups in kerbside recycling bins rather than general waste, and 32 per cent of people are still incorrectly placing soft plastics into their recycling bins.

E-Waste also poses challenges as nearly half (48 per cent) of us find it difficult to recycle despite specialised drop-offs being available. Over a third (37 per cent) don’t take batteries to specialised disposal with nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) wrongly placing batteries into their kerbside bins, and more than one-third of people (38 per cent) aren’t disposing of mobile phones (a type of E-Waste) in specialised recycling.

In terms of solutions to improve our behaviour, more than one-third of people say incentives (36 per cent) and clearer product labelling (39 per cent) would help them recycle more.

Despite our move to re-using and repairing (elements of the circular economy), more than half of us (58 per cent) are still unfamiliar with the term ‘circular economy’ – a system involving the continual recycling and re-use of products and materials into the same or different products.

Clean Up Australia, an environmental charity, Chairperson, Pip Kiernan, says, confusion is still a leading cause of our recycling and waste disposal mistakes.

“Recycling confusion is a common theme throughout each of these annual Recycling Behaviours Reports. We are keen to demystify recycling, because in reality, there’s only a small amount of effort required from each of us to create sustainable change.”

Understanding Recycling Bins: 

At Swann Rubbish Removal, we aim to make recycling easy and effective for everyone. Understanding how to use recycling bins correctly is essential for reducing waste and promoting sustainability. Here’s a detailed guide on the types of recycling bins and what should go into each one:

General Waste Bin (Red Lid)

This bin is for items that cannot be recycled. Common items include:

  • Takeaway coffee cups and lids
  • Food waste and scraps
  • Broken glass or ceramics
  • Nappies and sanitary products
  • Soft plastics like plastic bags and wrappers (if not recycled separately)

Recycling Bin (Yellow Lid)

The recycling bin is for items that can be processed and reused. Ensure items are clean, dry, and loose (not bagged). Accepted items include:

  • Paper and cardboard (e.g., newspapers, magazines, packaging)
  • Glass bottles and jars (rinsed, with lids removed)
  • Plastic bottles and containers (rinsed, with lids removed)
  • Aluminium and steel cans (rinsed)
  • Milk and juice cartons (rinsed)

Organic Waste Bin (Green Lid)

This bin is for biodegradable waste that can be composted. Items include:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Garden waste (e.g., grass clippings, leaves)
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Eggshells
  • Small branches and twigs

E-Waste Disposal

E-waste requires special handling due to hazardous materials. Items include:

  • Batteries (drop off at designated collection points)
  • Mobile phones (use specialised recycling programs)
  • Computers and accessories (take to e-waste collection facilities)
  • Televisions and other electronic devices

Soft Plastics Recycling

Soft plastics, such as plastic bags and wrappers, should not go in the yellow recycling bin. Instead, they can be recycled through designated collection programs often found at supermarkets. Items include:

  • Plastic bags and wrappers
  • Bread bags
  • Confectionery wrappers
  • Bubble wrap

Tips for Effective Recycling

  1. Clean and Rinse: Ensure all recyclable items are clean and free from food residue to avoid contamination.
  2. Separate Materials: Remove lids from bottles and jars, and separate different materials to ensure proper processing.
  3. Check Local Guidelines: Recycling rules can vary by area, so check with your local council for specific guidelines.
  4. Don’t Bag Recyclables: Place recyclable items loose in the bin, not in plastic bags.
  5. Use Designated Drop-Off Points: For items like e-waste and soft plastics, use the designated collection points provided by local councils or supermarkets.


By understanding and following these guidelines, you can make a significant impact on reducing waste and promoting recycling. At Swann Rubbish Removal, we are dedicated to helping you navigate the recycling process and ensure that your waste is disposed of responsibly. If you have any questions or need assistance with waste management, please contact us for more information. Together, we can work towards a more sustainable future.