Yes and no.
Most recycled materials have a lower embodied resource component that its virgin cousins. One needs to consider the whole of life from cradle to grave rather than possibly the end manufactured packaging component.
The challenge with recycled materials is the quality of the material. If one places incorrect materials in the recycling stream, this causes contamination which significantly devalues the material. The material is devalued as either the contaminant needs to be removed (usually by manual means as technology to sort contamination from stream is in its infancy and unproven) or the materials can only be used for a lower end use (for example, plastic becomes bulk moulded items or any plastic materials rather than recycling into new PET bottles).
This is principally why China has stopped the inflow of recyclables from many countries, not because they don’t want the material, they don’t want the contaminants which degrade the value of the material and limit its potential reuse/reprocessing.
If everyone was possibly as obsessed as say as some Japanese towns in relation to recycling (some towns break the recycling streams into each plastic grade and have a dozen or more individual streams one must recycle to), then the Chinese would welcome the recycling streams from Australia and many other countries. Unfortunately while Australia has implemented reasonably successful recycling schemes, the quality of the receivables in these streams from the community has been relatively poor.
Many state government have also introduced waste levies to encourage the diversion of potentially recycled materials away from landfill. In effect, these waste levies subsidise or add value to the worth of the recycled materials, making recycling more attractive than disposal.
In relation to Redcycle, what can be recycled in these bins can be found here:
We collect and recycle our own soft plastic and drop it into the Redcycle bin at our local Woolworths. We also try and maximise the recycling opportunity by following the above ‘what to recycle’ and also remove any paper labelling from any soft plastic we recycle (such as a product label on a plastic bread bag). We ensure that anything which goes in the Redcycle bin is free of potential contaminants which results in the particular stream being rejected.
It is up to us as individuals to ensure that we participate in recycling schemes, and ensure that we don’t introduce contaminants which devalue the work of the community as a whole.