Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation CEO Brooke Donnelly shares an update on the suite of projects happening in 2019 to work towards the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the Planet Ark Environmental Foundation (PAEF) have received $3 million in federal funding to support new recycling education and resource recovery projects.
The funding forms part of the Federal Government’s $100 million Environmental Restoration Fund, and will provide resources and support to drive the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
The National Consumer Education Program (NCEP) has been allocated $1.1 million to create a consistent national approach to consumer education on reducing, reusing and recycling packaging over the next four years.
NCEP will extend the reach of the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) Program, an evidence-based labelling scheme delivered by APCO and launched by Environment Minister Melissa Price in September 2018.
APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said she is pleased the government have recognised the value of ARL, and other connected projects delivered by the organisation.
“This funding will enable us to continue our collaborative work with industry and our partners to ensure we meet the 2025 targets and continue to work toward achieving a circular economy in Australia,” Ms Donnelly said.
A further $1.6 million will support the development of a Circular Economy Hub, a new online platform and marketplace developed by PAEF and designed to help drive innovation in the transition to a circular economy in Australia.
PAEF CEO Paul Klymenko said the website will match buyers and sellers in waste resources, helping them identify products with sustainable materials, including recycled content.
“An important element will be the Circular Economy Marketplace, which will act as the B2B ‘eBay’ for the circular economy,” Mr Klymenko said.
“Planet Ark is thrilled to have been entrusted with the development of these vital tools.”
The Regional Model for Soft Plastics Recycling project, a partnership between APCO and the Plastic Police based in NSW’s Hunter Valley, will receive $150,000 to explore opportunities for expansion – including extending deployment to other regions.
A further $150,000 will also be provided to the Remote and Regional Waste Collection Partnership, a project aiming to support governments and communities address the challenges of waste and resource recovery in remote and regional areas.
Consistent labelling and increased industry capacity would help councils identify the correct pathways for recyclable plastics, writes Australian Local Government Association President David O’Loughlin.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) this week launched a Packaging Materials Flow Analysis (MFA), a new report developed in partnership with the Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF) mapping the current state of post-consumer packaging in Australia.
Commissioned on behalf of APCO, the report highlights a compelling need to improve packaging recovery and recycling rates across all material streams.
In 2017/18 Australians generated an estimated 4.4 million tonnes of total packaging waste, with 68 per cent of this collected, and 56 per cent of the collection total recovered by recycling efforts. This ranged from 32 per cent for plastics and up to 72 per cent for paper streams – highlighting a significant opportunity to improve waste management practices to achieve higher recovery rates.
Of the 4.4 million tonnes, the report shows 44 per cent was landfilled, 33 per cent went to local secondary material utilisation, 19 per cent exported, four per cent stockpiled and more than 0.5 per cent to energy recovery.
The MFA Report is one of several APCO initiatives being conducted during the foundation phase of the targets (2019-2020) – the groundwork stage that focuses on research, engaging stakeholders and setting baselines and frameworks.
APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said that to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, we need to first understand the journey materials take along the entire supply chain and establish a baseline of data to measure change and interventions. She said that the MFA is first step in this process.
As a critical first step in achieving the 2025 national packaging targets for all material to be reusable, recyclable or compostable, the report outlines the current journey of Australia’s packaging waste from bin to landfill or reprocessing, identifies significant data and infrastructure challenges in the system and models five potential solutions for the future.
- New national targets set within 2025 packaging plan
- Packaging progress
- Scrunching the issue of soft plastics
One of the challenges is the major losses to landfill to recoverable materials occurring before waste is collected for sorting at materials recycling facilitates (MRFs) or container deposit scheme collections. The report attributes this to incorrect disposal of packaging wastes by households and businesses.
“Better management of this waste at the source, through improved source separation, is important. Critically, consumer education and awareness raising around appropriate disposal and collection channels, as well as smarter design of packaging for recycling, are also key strategies. These are already supported by the new Australasian Recycling label (ARL) and the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP),” the report says.
Additionally, the report shows the opportunity to increase sorting efficiency by diverting materials, especially glass, from kerbside to the expanding container deposit scheme collections. It finds better sorting equipment will also support improvements in contaminant removal. The report shows there are about 100 MRFs in operation across Australia, with throughput capacities ranging from 5000 to 250,000 tonnes per annum. Around 45 per cent of the total packaging waste stream for 2017/17 gets directed to MRFs and their capabilities for efficiently sorting co-mingled and highly contaminated waste is indicated to be a major factor limiting packaging sorting efficiency in Australia.
“Upgrading existing MRF capabilities is difficult and expensive owing to market uncertainties (e.g., caused by Chinese waste import restrictions), making the case for improving up-stream source separation and collection stronger,” the report says.
Future modelling shows potential to achieve an overall packaging waste recovery rate of 77 per cent, assuming a range of strategies are adopted to address losses across the whole chain, from collection to processing.
With glass packaging, the estimated recovery rate is just over 50 per cent and 23 per cent of glass waste disposed to the residual stream. About 80,000 tonnes of glass is collected and sorted through container deposit collection systems.
The investigation in particular highlights the importance of improving source separation, particularly for plastics to address residuals, a priority for paper in reducing contamination (embedded glass fines) that could be achieved with separated paper or glass separation and diverting glass to CDS to improve the quality of the stream to be suitable for bottle to bottle recycling.
Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS) Research Director and co-author of the report Dr Nick Florin said that there is great potential to step-up material recovery from the current overall recovery rate of 56 per cent and at the same time increase demand for recycled materials to drive the transition to a circular economy for packaging.
“APCO, as the central product stewardship organisation, is well placed to support this coordinated transition that involves cooperation between consumers, designers, recyclers and packaging manufactures,” Dr Florin said.
The MFA also highlighted significant data and infrastructure gaps that need to be addressed before the 2025 targets can be achieved. These findings will be used to inform additional packaging and recycling research to develop a complete picture of the current system.
Ms Donnelly said we can’t implement effective and meaningful changes to the system if we don’t first have a complete and accurate picture.
“A collaborative approach will be critical to building this. The challenge ahead of us requires a complete transformation of the current system. Over the next 12 months, APCO will be leading an ambitious agenda of projects to build on the findings of the MFA. We look forward to working closely with all stakeholders as we transition to a circular model for packaging in Australia,” she said.
Throughout 2018 APCO also facilitated a series of five, year-long industry working groups attended by more than 80 industry members from across the value chain and government to explore solutions to problematic packaging types (including glass, polymer coated paperboard (PCPB), soft plastics, biodegradable and compostable packaging, and expanded polystyrene).
In 2019, APCO will be co-ordinating 22 new projects to build on the findings of the MFA and the 2018 working groups. These will include further detailed research into packaging consumption and recycling to establish baselines for the 2025 targets, developing targeted design resources to improve packaging recyclability, and developing strategies to address problematic packaging, including plastics.
To read the full APCO Packaging Material Flow Analysis 2018, visit the APCO website.
2018 has been an incredible year of progress in sustainability for Australia’s packaging manufacturers, writes Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation CEO Brooke Donnelly.
Campbell Arnott’s Australia’s Liza Vernalls explains how the organisation is working to boost the uptake of difficult-to-recycle materials such as soft plastics and PET, while also making it easier for consumers to recycle.
This year’s Australian Packaging Covenant Awards (APCO) demonstrated the conversation is shifting to taking a whole-of-life cycle focus for packaging, including onshore solutions, writes APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly.
Three new directors have been appointed to the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) Board at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting.
Chair of the Australian Council of Recycling and owner of Re.Group, which oversees the container deposit schemes in the ACT and Queensland, David Singh was one of the new directors appointed to the board. His selection is part of APCO’s efforts to collaborate with the waste and recycling industries and its support for the rollout of container deposit schemes nationally.
- Scrunching the issue of soft plastics
- APCO conduct brand audit for 2025 recycling target
- APCO’s packaging recycling label program
CEO, Director and Company Secretary of the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia and Board Director of the Banksia Foundation, Andrew Petersen was also selected to be a director.
Fellow of the Australian Institute of Packaging Keith Chassell was appointed to the board. Mr Chassell has around 50 years of experience in the packaging, fast moving consumer goods and the food and beverage sectors.
The Board of Directors for 2019 includes Sam Andersen, Andrew Petersen, Keith Chessell, David Singh, Trent Bartlett, Jacky Nordsvan, Anne Astin, Jason Goode and Renata Lopes.
APCO Board Chair Sam Andersen said the board is delighted to welcome the new board members who bring a wealth and diversity of industry experience at a critical time for Australia’s waste and recycling, packaging and sustainability sectors.
“This has been a remarkable year of growth and progress for APCO, and we look forward to an even more productive year in 2019 with the support and guidance of the new Board Directors,” Ms Andersen said.
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The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has compiled a comprehensive gap analysis on the market barriers to recovering soft plastics. Waste Management Review sat down with APCO’s Brooke Donnelly to discuss how it fits into the broader plastics issue.