Environmental benefit claims: what they really mean

Find out more about the environmental benefit claims companies use to promote their products.

There are green marketing laws that regulate how companies in Australia should label their products when making claims about environmental benefits, including recycled content.

Labelling should be clear and not misleading. Products which are described as recyclable must be able to be recycled in Australia, although not necessarily everywhere in Australia.

This is because different councils and recycling facilities have different abilities to recycle products.

Commercial products with recycled content will usually have the type and percentage of recycled materials written on the label.

Here are some common terms and their meaning:

Recycled material: the product is made from materials that would otherwise have become waste.

Re-used material: material in the product has been used more than once and could possibly be used again and again.

Recyclable material: the product is made from material that can be recycled, for example, rigid plastics.

Re-manufactured material: products with re-manufactured material have new and re-used parts or materials. For example: old or damaged parts of a product may have been replaced so that the product can have a second life.

Pre-consumer material: in products made from pre-consumer material, the recycled material is from the manufacturing process. This material was never used by consumers and would have otherwise become waste.

Post-consumer material: post-consumer materials are waste products from homes or commercial and industrial processes. The material has been recycled instead of becoming waste.

Source: The Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Page last updated: Wednesday, 27 January 2021