ASX recycling stocks are all about trying to solve the world’s waste reduction problem.

We produce enough waste in a year to fill over 800,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools — and that’s only municipal solids.

While the sector’s existence is a sign in itself that the problem is being addressed, there is some way to go. Yesterday, when the federal government launched its latest recycling campaign “Check It! Before You Chuck It”, it revealed a survey which found that 81 per cent of Australians aren’t confident they recycle everything effectively.

Moreover, even among Australians identifying as confident recyclers, over one in five admitted that if they couldn’t tell if an item could be recycled, they’d give their red bin the benefit of the doubt.

But these ASX recycling stocks may be able to help.

Large caps Cleanaway Waste Management (ASX:CWY) and Bingo Industries (ASX:BIN) are the industry leaders on the ASX.

Both companies are responsible for waste and recycling collection for dozens of councils across Australia. The latter stock, Bingo, also makes skip bins – which is where it began in 2005 as Bingo Bins.

One smaller play is West Australian company M8 Sustainable (ASX:M8S) which is building landfills with technologies ensuring organic waste can be broken down and methane gas emissions are minimal.


Plastic fighters

One of the biggest sources of non-recyclable waste is plastics, particularly plastic bags.

Wood Mackenzie estimated earlier this year 382 million tonnes of packaging plastic waste will enter landfills over the next two decades.

But a handful of stocks are seeking to reduce this.

One is Secos Group (ASX:SES) which makes compostable plastic and sells it to packaging companies.

This stock has more than doubled this year off the back of major orders for its bin liners, including from Woolworths.

Another is Integrated Green Energy Solutions (ASX:IGE) which recycles plastics and turns the residue into road-ready fuel.

Unfortunately this stock has spent much of 2020 suspended after it announced in January had secured a major finance package from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority but backflipped just two days later.

Stocks in the packaging trade include Pro-Pac (ASX:PPG) and Pact Group (ASX:PGH).


Battery & metals recycling stocks

One potential source of waste is electric vehicle batteries. While electric vehicles remain at relatively low levels of adoption, a number of companies are seeking to address the problem before it happens.

This particular industry is projected to be worth upwards of $3 billion a year by the mid-2030s.

The ASX recycling stock most entrenched in this field is Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT).

This stock has surged in recent months after both the New South Wales and Western Australian governments opened their cheque books to encourage the industry to set up shop in their states.

EcoGraf (ASX:EGR) is another battery recycling stock. Earlier this year showed it could recover graphite from a range of ‘black mass’ material from recycled batteries.

Another handful of companies recover metals from mining and industrial waste.

The most significant ASX player is $1.7 billion company Sims Metal Management (ASX:SGM) which isn’t quite in the battery recycling yet but is a metals recovery business.

It secures reusable metals from devices being broken down such as scrapped combustion-engine cars.

Another two are small caps Clean Teq (ASX:CLQ) and Neometals (ASX:NMT). While both companies are at earlier stages to Sims, the former is backed by billionaire Robert Friedland.