Scrunching the issue of soft plastics

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.

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New national targets set within 2025 packaging plan

New targets within the 2025 plan have been outlined alongside the launch of the Australasian Recycling Label.

The new targets aim to aim to increase the average recycled content within all packaging by 30 per cent and phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through design, innovation or the introduction of alternatives.

Additionally, the targets aim to ensure 70 per cent of plastic packaging is recycled or composted.

These build on the previous announcement of a target to achieve 100 per cent of Australian packaging being recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025.

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The targets build on commitments made by federal, state and territory environment ministers and the President for the Australian Local Government Association earlier in April this year.

Industry representatives and environmental groups support the targets including Aldi, ALGA, Amcor, Australia Post, Boomerang Alliance, Chep, Close the Loop, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coles, Detmold, Goodman Fielder, Lion, Metcash, Nestlé, Orora, Pact Group, Planet Ark, Redcycle, Simplot, Suez, Tetra Pak, Unilever, Veolia, Visy and Woolworths.

Woolworths General Manager, Quality and Sustainability Alex Holt highlighted the importance of this collaboration.

“We’re really pleased to see such a wide range of industry players come together in support of such a worthy goal. Moving towards a circular economy won’t be easy, but we have the right mix of organisations on board to help make it a reality,” Mr Holt said.

Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price congratulated the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the initial working group of businesses that are supporting the targets.

Minister Price has also officially launched the Australasian recycling Label to help achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, developed by Planet Ark, PREP Design and APCO to help consumers better understand how to recycle packaging.

“The Australasian Recycling Label provides people with easy to understand recycling information when they need it most, in those few seconds when they are deciding what bin the package goes in. The label removes confusion and reduces waste,” Ms Price said.

With more than 200 recycling labels currently being used in Australia, the new system aims to reduce confusion and contamination in the waste stream.

Nestlé Head of Corporate and External Relations Oceania Margaret Stuart said the inclusion of the label on Netslé’s packaging was a demonstration of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

“More and more people who buy our products want to know how to manage packing waste, so we have committed to implementing the Australasian Recycling Label across all our locally controlled products by 2020,” Ms Stuart said.

Unilever ANZ CEO Clive Stiff has said the announcements are a critical step towards greater collective action on increasing the nationals recycling capability.

“Plastic packaging waste represents an $80 billion loss to the global economy every year. The benefits of the circular economy approach are clear for business and the environment – the more effective use of materials means lower costs and less waste,” Mr Stiff said.

“We are proud to have recently announced that bottles of popular Unilever products like OMO, Dove, Sunsilk, Surf and TRESemmé will soon be made with at least 25% Australian recycled plastic.

“This is just the start for us and no business can create a circular economy in isolation. Heavy lifting is needed from all players involved – suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, policy makers and retailers, collectors, sorters and recyclers. We need a complete shift in how we think about and use resources.”

Winners announced for 2018 APCO awards

The 2018 Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) awards took place in Sydney on 29 August, showcasing companies with outstanding achievements in recyclable packaging.

Companies from the telecommunications sector to the food and beverage sector came together on the day to discuss how each could reach the target of 100 per cent of Australian packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

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Two workshops were available on the day, with one exploring a sustainable packaging guidelines review and the other focusing on consumer education and behaviour change.

At the workshopping event, APCO Chief Executive Officer Brooke Donnelly said Australia was undergoing a sustainable packaging review to update the most recent, which took place in 2011.

“What we are trying to achieve is better material choices and better design,” said Ms Donnelly.

“Part of that achievement also included correct disposal of packaging and no packaging in landfill,” she said.

At the awards evening, Detmold Packaging won the top award – Sustainable Packaging Excellence.

Detmold Packaging manufacturers paper and board packaging products for the FMCG and industrial markets.

The company was founded in 1948 and is part of the Detmold Group. It has access to a global network, with seven factories and more than 20 sales offices through Australia, Asia, South Africa, the Middle East, America and Europe.

Food company Campbell Arnotts Australia won the award for Outstanding Achivement in Packaging Design, along with the award for the Food and Beverage sector.

Arnott’s is one of the largest food companies in the Asia Pacific region, with its ongoing growth supported by the Campbell Soup Company’s investment in the business.

Other winners for outstanding achievements were CHEP Australia for Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Packaging Operations, and Australian Postal Organisation for Outstanding Achievement in Industry Leadership.

APCO Award Winners: 

ACCO Brands Australia – Homewares Sector

Amgen Australia – Pharmaceutical Sector

Detmold Packaging – Packaging Manufacturer

Redback Boot Company – Clothing, Footwear and Fashion

Kyocera Document Solutions – Electronics Sector

LyondellBasel Australia – Chemicals and Agriculture

Qantas Airways – Airline Sector

SingTel Optus – Telecommunications

Telstra Corporation – Telecomunications

Super Retail Group – Large Retailer Sector

Tasman Sinkware – Machinery and Hardware

Integria Healthcare – Personal Care

CHEP Australia – Logistics Sector

Nestlé to implement Australasian Recycling Label by 2020

Nestlé

Nestlé will implement the new Australasian Recycling Label and REDcycle logo across all of its locally made products by 2020 to educate consumers that soft plastic can be recycled through the in-store scheme.

The rollout will start in August and will roll out throughout 2019, starting with Allen’s lollies.

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The Australasian Recycling Label shows how each piece of packaging can be disposed of in the best possible way, indicating if the packaging can be recycled via kerbside recycling, conditionally recycled through programs such as REDcycle, or if it is not recyclable.

Nestlé previously announced it aims to make its packaging 100 per cent recyclable or reusable by 2025.

To reach this goal, the company will focus on three core areas, eliminate non-recyclable plastics, encourage the use of plastics that allow better recycling rates and eliminate complex combinations of packaging material.

Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez said the company is proud to adopt the new label to help consumers correctly recycle by providing the information on how to properly dispose of it.

“Consumers have good intentions when it comes to recycling but they need clearer information. The Australasian Recycling Label will help to remove confusion, increase recycling rates and decrease contamination in recycling streams by helping consumers navigate the process,” Ms Martinez said.

Planet Ark Deputy CEO Rebecca Gilling said the commitment from companies such as Nestlé was an important one.

“We need widespread commitment from industry to apply the Australasian Recycling Label if it’s to become effective in helping consumers improve their recycling habits.”

Planet Ark provide councils packaging recycling label webinars

Planet Ark is increasing its efforts to educate Australians about Australasia Recycling Labels, including councils and educators.

In partnership with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), the Australasian Recycling Label has entered into a new phase which will allow more companies to adopt it. Organisations such as Australia Post, Blackmores, Nestlé, Unilever and Woolworths have already pledged their commitment to the label.

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It has been designed to be easy to understand and show what needs to be done with each piece of packaging to dispose of it in the best way.

Because councils play an important part in the recycling process and are the source of the evidence base used by the label, Planet Ark is hosting a series of free webinars in the coming weeks.

Council and waste industry staff members that are interested can sign up by clicking here.

Webinars are planned for the following dates:

  • August 28 – 11am AEST
  • September 4 – 11am AEST
  • September 12 – 1pm AEST
  • September 20 – 1pm AEST

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.