A new labelling system on plastic packaging, designed by environmental and packaging groups, will make it easier for consumers to recycle correctly.

Launched today, the Australasian Recycling Label – jointly developed by Planet Ark, PREP Design and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation – provides easy-to-understand recycling information for those critical few seconds when consumers are deciding which bin to use.

The new labelling system clarifies how to dispose of each packaging component. For example, with a box of chocolates, the labels say that the cardboard box can be recycled but the outer plastic wrapping should be thrown in the landfill-bound garbage.

The labels also denote packaging that is “conditionally recyclable” – the bits that may be accepted for kerbside recycling by some, but not all, local councils (such as pizza boxes). They provide specific instructions, for example to scrunch foil into a ball, to ensure packaging is recycled correctly.

The move is in response to Planet Ark’s research, which revealed that while Australians have good intentions when it comes to recycling, many are confused by current packaging labels. Misleading or incorrect labelling means consumers are sending recyclable materials to landfill, or are potentially contaminating recycling bins with the wrong waste.

Alejandra Laclette, Planet Ark’s recycling label program manager, says the new labels provide much-needed clarity on recycling and waste disposal.

“It shows what needs to be done with each piece of packaging to dispose of it in the best possible way, helping to reduce confusion about what can be recycled and, therefore, reducing contamination in the recycling bin,” Laclette told Broadsheet.

The recycling labels have already been adopted by more than 50 businesses, including Woolworths, Australia Post, T2, Plantic, Blackmores and Officeworks.

The labels were announced in conjunction with the federal government’s National Packaging Targets, which aim for 70 per cent of all plastic packaging in Australia to be recycled by 2025, and 100 per cent of packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 or earlier.