They teach this concept in schools, they put it up on billboards and they make TV commercials about it.
Australians want to know more and more where our recyclables are ending up and the cost our rubbish has to the environment.
Major concerns about the environmental impacts of waste - plastic especially – are leading the country to a big change.
When I first moved here, it took me a while to understand and learn how to use trash bins and how to do recycling here in Australia.
I can at least say now how separate collection works here in Sydney, because after a few months I had been living here (and failing at it) I finally found some very explanatory bins that made me understand.
I remember the epiphany came to me one day after a few months from my arrival in Sydney. I was at a station and I finally saw some bins that gave me some clarity on the separate collection.
There are two types of basic bins, the yellow ones and the red ones.
The yellow ones are used for recycling paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and cans. In the red one, on the other hand, there is food and in general rubbish contaminated by food (so called wet waste).
In addition to these, you will also very occasionally see green and blue bins. In the green ones there is garden waste (branches, leaves and any compostable material) while in the blue ones you could put cardboard, newspapers and magazine which does not make much sense since you can also use the yellow one for that or even the compostable one.
That said, however, in the apartments you will only find the yellow and the red one. Finally, it must be said that black bags are used for all waste so I think that in reality no one pays too much attention to where they throw what.
I don't know if separate collection is done in the same way throughout Australia, but at least if you come to Sydney you have an idea of how to behave and, unfortunately, I don’t think much is done to help the environment.
When you are out and about in town in fact the bins are all the same and there is no way to recycle materials such as bottles and cans.
Saying that I must admit that, following the pandemic crisis, the Australian government has announced a multi-million investment in the nation's first Recycling Modernization Fund, with the goal of transforming the country's waste and recycling industry. The hope is to create thousands of new jobs and to reform the way Australia handles its waste.
Australia produces tonnes of waste as many other wealthy countries and much of it is now sent overseas. That all changed when China announced a ban on the import of a wide range of foreign waste and recyclables. Other countries soon followed suit and Australia was forced to seek alternative solutions.
Australia has adopted a strategy to take responsibility for its waste and it is gradually introducing an export ban on different forms of waste.
The environmental benefits of increasing recycling rates are well known: fewer landfills, less plastic in the ocean, less need for virgin materials, and fewer carbon emissions. The Recycling Modernization Fund initiative aims to divert million tonnes of waste from landfill, part of a global strategy to reduce total waste generated per person.
But like many countries, Australia is also focusing on the economic benefits of better waste management meaning more valuable resources ready to be reused locally by manufacturers and brands in their packaging and products.