Industry, government and community tackle plastic waste

Industry giants, community groups and government bodies came together to tackle the issue of plastic packaging waste in Australia.

Consumer goods manufacturers Coca Cola, Danone, Unilever and Kellogg’s, tech companies Fuji Xerox and Dell, supermarkets Coles and Aldi and senior figures from the NSW Environment Protection Authority met with local community groups to discuss the future of plastic packaging in consumer goods.

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The event was hosted by the Boomerang Alliance with the support of Bloomberg Australia, and examined the infrastructure holes that need to be filled in order to improve Australia’s capacity for waste collection, processing and recycling.

Representatives from Clean Up Australia, Responsible Cafes, Bye Bye Plastic, Planet Ark, Close the Loop and the local Sydney councils of Randwick, Waverly and Inner West Councils also added to the discussion.

A guest panel of speakers shared their expertise and included Australian Packaging Covenant CEO Brooke Donnelly, Waste Management Association Australia CEO Gayle Sloan, Founder of BioPak Richard Fine, and Nature’s Organics CEO Jo Taranto.

Ms Sloan said every council’s waste management has the same definition in their contracts regarding what’s recyclable.

“We have conveyors and depending on the money and infrastructure available, they’ll use infrareds to split out the different types of plastics,” she said.

Most material recovery facilities do this but at a cost and we don’t have enough people buying back [the recycled material]. That’s the problem.”

Mr Fine said it is important that companies are marketing their products as compostable get certified to a recognised standard.

“There’s a lot of greenwashing out there providing vague claims of ‘biodegradable’ which is confusing the consumer and damaging the industry as a lot of these products will simply break down and fragment into small pieces,” he said.

Pictured left to right: Richard Fine, Brooke Donnelly, Justin Dowel, Jo Toranto, Gayle Sloan, Jayne Paramor.

APCO conduct brand audit for 2025 recycling target

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) will conduct a brand audit of several thousand Australian businesses about the need to comply with sustainable packaging obligations.

The National Environmental Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM) has set the target for packaging to be 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

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It was announced by Australia’s Environment Ministers in April 2018, with APCO developing a national roadmap to deliver on these targets. The brand audit is one of APCO’s initiatives designed to ensure businesses are meeting their sustainable packaging obligations.

The audit will incorporate businesses from a range of sectors, including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, printing, and toy and sporting goods wholesale.

Businesses liable under the NEPM include any organisation with an annual turnover of $5 million or more that is either in the supply chain of consumer packaging or a retailer that is a manufacturer, wholesaler or importer, or offers its branded products to customers.

APCO Chief Executive Brooke Donnelly said businesses play a crucial role in making this target a reality.

“Reaching the landmark target set by Environment Ministers will require a complete transformation of the way our society thinks about packaging – recognising it as a valuable resource and not just waste that is destined for landfill. We know we can do it, but we can’t do it alone,” Ms Donnelly said.

“There are a number of basic packaging requirements that all Australian businesses are required to meet – and these are outlined in the NEMP. One of our responsibilities is to notify the businesses who aren’t meeting these basic obligations and provide them with the tools, resources and pathways to track and improve their packaging sustainability,” she said.

APCO will begin a two-month consultation process with APCO Members and key stakeholders to improve understanding about what the industry is required to do to reach the target.

APCO welcomes packaging commitment

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has welcomed the Meeting of Environment Ministers commitment to see 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025.

State and territory governments will work with APCO, representing over 900 companies to deliver this target. Ministers endorsed the development of targets for the use of recycled content in packaging and this will be closely monitored.

APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said the China issue presents a significant opportunity for Australia to shift to the next level in packaging resource recovery, recycling and end use.

“Today’s announcement is a monumental call to action and one of the most ambitious and decisive environmental targets to be supported in Australia. We applaud the federal, state and territory governments for stepping up as key players in the global movement to create sustainable packaging solutions that drive accountability, transparency and shared value for consumers, industry and government,” she said.

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“We will support more innovative packaging design, enhance consumer education, as well as bolster the reuse and incorporation of recycled content within end markets.

“Across these initiatives, it’s essential that we take a consistent national approach. One that will promote domestic recycling and resource recovery to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill and deliver a smaller, cleaner waste stream in Australia.”

Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez said the company recognises businesses must step up and find improved solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle.

“Nestlé is proud to be a member of APCO and is working collectively alongside industry to achieve 100 per cent recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025,” she said.

 

APCO Morning Tea for Global Recycling Day

To show support for recycling in Australia, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation has organised a morning tea on Global Recycling Day.

APCO will be hosting a morning tea and will include presentations on design for recycling, sustainable packaging, recycling labels and designing end-of-life packaging.

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Global Recycling Day is an initiative from the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) and events will be held on the day to promote recycling in 70 countries. The BIR hopes that the day will help people make at least one change in their behaviour to encourage recycling.

APCO members that have made valuable contributions to recycling systems that minimise the impact of packaging on the environment will be recognised on the day.

The APCO Morning Tea will be held at 10am on 16 March at the APCO Office, Level 4, 332 Kent Street, Sydney.

More information can be found here.

APCO: Supporting industry progress

Working towards packaging sustainability is a journey that is different for every organisation. For some, it begins with legislative compliance. For others, it is a commitment to a strategic approach to sustainable management and performance that delivers organisational and financial gains.

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) Sustainability Pyramid is a framework that captures variations in the levels of development in commitment, structure and performance.

The APCO has helped a large number of its members progress through the four stages of the pyramid (denial, compliance, efficiency and strategic), and has provided tools to measure members’ continual improvement along their packaging sustainability journey.

This includes the new Packaging Sustainability Framework and Annual Reporting Tool for APCO Members.

Launched in November 2017, it shifts the focus from compliance to business sustainability and shared values.

An updated set of criteria for reporting provides members with multiple pathways to packaging sustainability that recognise the need for a flexible and holistic approach. The framework takes a whole-of-lifecycle approach, with a view to optimise resource use and encourage design for recovery for all members. It enables continuous improvement in sustainability processes and outcomes, while acknowledging the different levels of knowledge, capacity and progress within individual organisations.

This presentation will outline:

  • The unique APCO shared responsibility model and value proposition.
  • The Sustainability Pyramid and its levels of management and performance.
  • The research that was undertaken to design the Packaging Sustainability Framework, based on global standards and best practices.
  • How the APCO supports members’ individual and collective progress and development through a thought leadership, knowledge sharing and recognition programs.

This presentation will feature at this year’s Australian Institute of Packaging National Conference and Waste2018 conference at Coffs Harbour. Details below: