APCO hosts inaugural single-use plastic packaging workshop

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has hosted Australia’s first national workshop dedicated to phasing out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging.

The workshop, held in Adelaide, was coordinated by APCO as part of its work to deliver the 2025 National Packaging Targets, which include phasing out all problematic and unnecessary single use plastic packaging in Australia by 2025.

According to APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly, the workshop focused on understanding national policy approaches and the role of organisations within their supply chain, in an attempt to provide greater confidence that industry actions are aligned and compatible with government priorities.

“The session also assisted APCO in defining its program of work in this space for 2020,” Ms Donnelly said.

Heysen Member and Natural Resources Committee of Parliament Chair Josh Teague delivered the keynote address on behalf of South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs.

“It was fantastic to welcome Mr Teague to speak on behalf of Minister Speirs, a great advocate and champion for addressing problematic and unnecessary single use plastic packaging in Australia,” Ms Donnelly said. 

“It’s an honour to be part of this great collaborative effort here in the leading circular city of Adelaide, as we define a pathway forward for how we translate the current national policy work into tangible outcomes for our local communities.”

Workshop representatives included:

Industry: Coles Group, Woolworths Group, ALDI, IKEA, Qantas, Coca-Cola Amatil, McDonald’s, MARS Food, Biopak, Keep Cup and Carlton & United Breweries.  

Industry Associations: National Retail Association, South Australian Independent Retailers, Australian Food and Grocery Council and the Australian Organics Recycling Association.  

Government: Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy, Green Industries South Australia, Australian Local Government Association, Local Government Association of the Northern Territory, WA Local Government Association, WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, QLD Department of Environment and Science, East Waste, Local Government Association of the South Australia, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Community / Academia: University of Tasmania, Queensland University of Technology School of Design, Loop Circular Economy Platform, Keep South Australia Beautiful and the Loop Circular Economy Platform.

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Atritor Turbo Separator

The Atritor Turbo Separator was developed to separate products from their packaging, releasing them for recycling or disposal.

Available through Australian distributor Wastech Engineering, the Turbo Separator enables up to 99 per cent of dry or liquid products to be separated from their packaging with minimal contamination. This allows the contents to be used for compost, anaerobic digestion or animal feedstock. The Turbo Separator can be manufactured in a range of throughputs up to 20 tonnes per hour.

Additionally, the process is so efficient that it leaves the packaging relatively intact and clean to facilitate downstream recycling. According to Wastech, when compared to other methods of packaging separation, the Turbo Separator achieves higher separation efficiencies with lower power consumption, resulting in reduced operating costs.

The Turbo Separator is ideal for separating out of specification, out of date and mislabeled products from a variety of packaging, including cans, plastic bottles and boxes. The diverse range of applications includes the separation of paper from gypsum in plasterboard, general foodstuffs from their packaging and liquids from their containers.

It is available complete with infeed and outfeed conveyors and liquid transfer pumps. The Turbo Separator, with its durable construction and adjustable paddles, enables the separation of a wide variety of products. Each Turbo Separator installation can be configured to suit multiple applications and a variable shaft speed enables enhanced separation efficiency. The machine is available in mild steel and stainless steel to suit the application.

TOMRA Sorting’s near-infrared technology

TOMRA Sorting leverages near-infrared technology across a range of specialised products to increase revenues and reduce costs and the impact on the environment.

The near-infrared technology is ideal for packaging, municipal solid waste, thermoplastics, paper, commercial and industrial and construction and demolition waste, organic waste, refuse-derived fuel, bulky waste, wood and thermoplastics.

In particular the introduction of the laser object detection (LOD) now allows for sorting materials with no specific infrared signals.

Laser object detection sensors use a 3D laser system to physically detect items the spectrometer can’t detect. This now allows considerably improved removal of contaminants from various product streams.

Its multifunctional Autosort has been upgraded to include a user-friendly touchscreen to allow users to access various sorting programs.

Available through Australian supplier Cemac technologies, the company also offers select TOMRA technology to suit each application.

TOMRA Sorting’s Autosort flake combines colour detection with enhanced material and metal objects simultaneously to offer better purity and yield with the one machine.

Its Autosort fines was built to sort small fractions across multiple applications with a wider mechanical setup.

TOMRA Sorting’s Finder is able to target metal objects using patented z-tect technology which leverages artificial intelligence to detect and ignore disturbing noise and lead to a stable purity and high yield.

ALDI announces new packaging commitments

ALDI Australia has announced it will cut a quarter of all plastic packaging from its range by 2025, as part of a wide range of new packaging commitments.

ALDI Australia Managing Director Buying Oliver Bongardt made the announcement in front of 100 ALDI business partners at a supplier forum this week.

“In an act of transparency and authenticity, ALDI has committed to annually report on its progress towards this goal,” Mr Bongardt said.

“It’s our ambition to reduce the amount of plastic in our stores, while in parallel stimulating Australia’s circular economy and ensuring our business partners have commercially viable packaging options to reduce their reliance on virgin materials.”

Mr Bongardt said all single use plastics, such as cotton buds and plastic plates, will also be removed from ALDI stores by the end of 2020.

“Despite our desire, and that of our customers, to remove plastics immediately, this process will take years not weeks,” Mr Bongardt said.

“Today’s announcement is to clearly demonstrate that we are completely invested in the important journey of reducing waste, and we stand committed to quantify our progress over the coming years.”

Additionally, Mr Bongardt announced that ALDI had diverted six billion single-use plastic bags from entering the environment, the equivalent of 40,000 tonnes of soft plastic, since opening 18 years ago.

Mr Bongardt said ALDI acknowledged the pressure these commitments would place on their businesses and has resourced a team to support the transition.

In response to the announcement, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation CEO Brooke Donnelly said ALDI was demonstrating that sustainable packaging could drive a range of positive commercial benefits.

“I’d like to acknowledge ALDI on their new sustainability commitments, which represent a significant contribution to sustainable packaging in Australia and an important milestone in our work to reach the 2025 National Packaging Targets,” Ms Donnelly said.

“It’s particularly impressive to see the process ALDI has undertaken to involve their suppliers, effectively bringing a range of businesses along on their sustainable packaging journey and delivering an efficient, cost effective approach to the entire supply chain.”

ALDI’s packaging commitments:

— Reduce plastic packaging by 25 per cent by 2025.

— Actively reduce the amount of plastic packaging in the fresh produce range and transition to more sustainable alternatives where possible, producing no increase in food waste.

— Phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics by the end of 2020.

— Prioritise the reduction or replacement of difficult to recycle black plastic packaging.

— Make ALDI’s exclusive range packaging 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable by the end of 2025.

— By the end of 2020, all paper and pulp-based packaging in ALDI’s everyday range will be either Forest Stewardship Council certified, Programme for the Endorsement of Forest certified or 70 per cent recycled.

— Include, at minimum, 30 per cent recycled materials in plastic packaging by the end of 2025.

— Use the Australasian Recycling Label on all ALDI branded products by the end of 2022.

— Further educate customers on the importance of packaging waste reduction.

— Publicly report against all goals from 2020.

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Veolia and Nestlé partner to tackle plastic waste

Veolia and Nestlé have announced a partnership to work on waste collection and sorting, and recycling plastic material with an emphasis on flexible plastic packaging.

Projects will focus on eleven priority countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

The collaboration will explore technologies to establish viable models of recycling in different countries, including chemical recycling technologies like pyrolysis which is capable of producing virgin quality plastic.

These potential technologies will help Nestlé increase the recycled content of its bottled water packaging to 35 per cent and its overall product packaging to 15 per cent by 2025.

Nestlé Executive Vice President, Head of Operations Magdi Batato said plastic waste is a challenge that requires an ecosystem of solutions that work simultaneously.

“This partnership is another specific step to accelerate our efforts in addressing the critical issue of plastic waste.

“Leveraging on Veolia’s technology and expertise, we will start with pilot projects in multiple countries with the intention of scaling these up globally,” he said.

In late 2018 Nestlé committed to making 100 per cent of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.

Veolia Senior Executive Vice-President for Development, Innovation and Markets Laurent Auguste said the company welcomed the partnership as part of Veolia’s quest for a more circular economy of plastics.

“Our expertise in resource recovery and recycling has positioned us to tackle this issue with global brands and other value-chain actors across all continents.

“We believe it is time to move towards more recycling of materials, and we are happy to help our clients be ever more inventive so they can keep improving our quality of life, whilst protecting our planet and its resources,” he said.

The partnership follows a series of initiative’s taken by both companies to accelerate action to reduce plastic waste.

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Results of National Litter Index survey released

The Keep Australia Beautiful 2017-18 National Report has published results from its National Litter Index survey, providing a separate more detailed report on survey results for Tasmania.

National results show a decrease of 10.3 per cent in the number of litter items counted in 2017-18 compared with 2016-17 continuing a long term national trend of reduced litter levels.

The most significant decreases were 16.8 per cent for takeaway food and beverage packaging, 15.2 per cent in other paper, 12.7 per cent in general other litter items, 14.0 per cent in beverage containers and 6.4 per cent in cigarette litter.

The results for Tasmania indicated a decrease of 6.4 per cent in litter items and 6.2 per cent in volumes of litter across most categories.

While decreases were recorded at major roads and highways, retail precincts, car parks and shopping centres, there were increases in litter recorded at recreational parks, beaches, and residential streets.

Industrial precincts, retail shopping precincts and shopping centres had the highest numbers of litter items driven largely by cigarette butts which account for around two thirds of the overall litter.

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Compelling proposition

A shift in business practices would support a significant increase in procurement of recyclables, writes Matt Genever, Director Resource Recovery at Sustainability Victoria.

Read moreCompelling proposition

Potential emergency plastic tax by 2021: report

The plastic waste crisis is expected to deepen, potentially leading to a federal response in the form of an emergency tax by 2021, according to global wealth manager Credit Suisse.

It argues that reactionary policy measures are highly likely in the short term and could include a tax on virgin resins or additional tariffs placed on imported plastic goods in its report, The age of plastic at a tipping point.

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With too much plastic waste domestically and with no large export markets available, Credit Suisse estimates there will be a sharp increase in plastic being sent to landfill and illegal dumping.

“Our headline view is that things will get worse before they get better: the policy initiatives in the National Waste Strategy won’t take hold until FY20/21,” the report said.

Credit Suisse expects bans on single use-plastics to be extended to the six most common plastic packaging and tax incentives to be provided to help hit the 2025 target of 30 per cent recycled content in packaging.

The long lead time from policy approval to implementation is problematic, particularly for new waste infrastructure, which the company said will likely lead to a more supportive project approval environment for waste infrastructure.

Waste managers are expected to benefit from this scenario, with short term potential from council re-negotiations and long-term potential to fast-track waste infrastructure approvals, according to the report.

“Plastic has infiltrated almost every aspect of human life. It is the most prolific material on the planet, growing faster than any commodity in the last 33 years,” the report said.

“Plastic packaging has become one of the most intractable environmental challenges of our age. None of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable; they accumulate in landfills or the natural environment rather than decompose.

“To curtail the situation in the short run, it is a matter of when, not if, we see reactionary policy measures,” the report said.

TAS Govt discuss waste management strategies

Waste industry experts and stakeholders have come together in Tasmania to discuss current waste management issues at the Tasmanian Waste and Resource Recovery Forum.

The forum aims to give the waste and recycling industry a chance to discuss issues around waste policy following China’s implementation of the National Sword policy.

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Discussions at the forum focus around waste and resource recovery settings for Tasmania, waste avoidance and reduction, innovations in waste management and bringing a circular economy to Tasmania.

Held by the Waste Management Association of Australia, the forum follows consultation by the Tasmanian Government on its new waste strategy – the Tasmanian Waste Action Plan.

The state government has outlined several commitments and targets to reduce packaging waste, boost consumer awareness through industry, increase recycling capacity and boost demand though market development.

Other targets include making Tasmania the tidiest state with the lowest incidence of litter in Australia by 2023 by increasing penalties for illegal dumping, expanding the reporting of litter offences through an illegal rubbish app, providing additional support for Keep Australia Beautiful Tasmania and using Community Service Orders for rubbish removals from public areas.

The draft of the Tasmanian Waste Action Plan is expected to be released for public consultation in early 2019.

Consumers expect sustainable packaging from industry: research

Consumers are aware of the problems caused by packaging waste but expect the industry to provide more sustainable options, according to research launched by packaging company Pact Group.

The research has found 91 per cent of Australians are concerned about the impact of packaging, with 76 per cent more concerned about packaging waste now than they were five years ago.

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Despite this, the research has found that less than half would be willing to pay more for a product with environmentally friendly packaging.

Pact Group, Executive Chairman Raphael Geminder said that Australia’s packaging industry needs smarter packaging waste solutions, with consumer sentiment shifting and government action forthcoming.

“We can no longer simply rely on consumers to solve the problem, we need government and industry working side by side to create scaled, standardised solutions to tackle packaging waste,” Mr Geminder said.

“In order to realise this vision, we require industry-wide collaboration to simplify the recycling process for consumers.

“An integrated approach will allow us to deliver innovation at scale so new solutions do not simply increase cost and lose value. Consumers should not be forced to choose between value and sustainability,” he said.

The company has announced its own targets to meet those outlined by the Environment Minister Melissa Price last week. Pact Group aims to eliminate all non-recyclable packing, offer 30 per cent recycled material across its portfolio and provide solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle all single use secondary packaging in supermarkets by 2025.

Mr Geminder said there are tangible, incremental changes that can be made today, with longer-term changes which will require cross industry collaboration.

“I will be calling on my industry colleagues to work together with us on common platforms, agreed standards and processes that will create a framework for manufacturers, brand owners and retailers to solve problems systematically,” he said.

Image Credit: Pact Group. Pictured Raphael Geminder (L) and Melissa Price (R)

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