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.
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.
Since the announcement of the 2025 environment ministers target, dialogue and debate have been intense. Throughout the process one question has been voiced the loudest: just how will Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) deliver? APCO’s Chief Executive Officer Brooke Donnelly explains.
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.
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The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) have launched a new nation-wide labelling scheme to help consumers better understand how to recycle products effectively.
The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL), in collaboration with Planet Ark and PREP Design, aims to help solve Australia’s critical waste issues by increasing recycling rates and clearly outlining for consumers what product packaging is made from so they can correctly recycle it after use.
Leading organisations including Australia Post, Blackmores, Nestlé, Officeworks, Unilever and Woolworths have already pledged their commitment to using the label and as such are actively working towards reducing the amount of waste going to landfill in Australia.
The label aims to lead to greater transparency amongst industry and drive more sustainable supply chain models. Businesses that pledge their commitment to the ARL gain access to a unique analysis tool that will allow them to better understand the materials they use in their packaging and associated environmental impacts. This will allow them to more effectively address problematic materials throughout the supply chain.
“The Australasian Recycling Label has been the result of close collaboration and partnership – core values of APCO. By bringing together the priorities of government and industry, and through our partnership with Planet Ark and PREP, we’ve been able to deliver a scheme that has real value for all parties and for the broader community as well,” said Brooke Donnelly, CEO of APCO.
“We’re incredibly proud of this initiative and of our members who have already pledged their commitment. The broad representation across industries demonstrates the growing sense of sustainability awareness and commitment in the Australian business community. We look forward to working with more organisations to collectively achieve better recycling rates and reduce waste to landfill.”
“We are looking forward to working with APCO to grow the ARL amongst their wide membership. I’d also like to thank the companies that have been instrumental in its success to date” said Paul Klymenko, CEO of Planet Ark.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation is a co-regulatory, not-for-profit organisation that partners with government and industry to reduce the harmful impact of packaging on the environment. For more information about The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, please visit their website.