In an attempt to make the process easier, a new, nationally consistent label has been developed.
It was launched today and has already started appearing on some packaging.
"The label on the packaging will actually indicate which part of the product is recyclable and then which part of the product needs to go in the bin," Adrian Cullen, Woolworth's Sustainability Manager, explained on AM.
He said the company had already begun phasing the label in on Woolworths branded products.
"For example, on some of our ready meals range, there's a tray, it's covered on top with a sheet of plastic, and it might come with a cardboard collar," he said.
"So it will probably tell the customer that the tray is recyclable, the plastic sheet on top would need to be torn off and that would go into the general waste, and the collar made of cardboard would then also be recycled."
Nestle, Officeworks, Coca-Cola and Woolworths are some of the more than 50 businesses adopting the new Australasian Recycling Label.
The label will also start appearing on some takeaway coffee cups, with companies including Biopak on board.
The labelling system, developed by Planet Ark, PREP Design and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) was launched by Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price.
While efforts to encourage consumers to recycle are widely welcomed, waste management experts have said more needs to be done to ensure manufacturers use recyclable materials.
There will be industry-led targets to support the Federal Government's commitment to make 100 per cent of all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
"We need to address the use of recycled content; packaging being recycled or composted; and what materials are unnecessary or problematic," APCO chief executive Brooke Donnelley said.
Woolworths' Adrian Cullen believes the labelling program will challenge Woolworths and other product developers to think about the types of packaging materials they use.
The retailer is implementing a "Redcycle" program, which allows customers to bring in materials that are not recycled in council curb-side programs.
"But we know there's a long journey to go, that this is just the start for us, and we're working on improving in this area," Mr Cullen said.
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