Achievements amid challenges: APCO

APCO is currently planning how it will deliver its objectives to build a new circular economy for packaging in this new world of work, writes CEO Brooke Donnelly.

Right now, the APCO team – like the rest of Australia – is working hard to navigate the strange and unsettling new reality that is life under COVID-19.

Our first priority has been to ensure that everyone in our team and our community is as safe as possible. Secondly, we have been figuring out how we can continue to deliver our objectives – to build a circular economy for packaging here in Australia – in this new world of work.

At the time of writing, we were about to host a series of working group meetings – the first for 2020 and the first ever in an online format.

Despite the challenges, 2020 has already seen some significant sustainable packaging achievements delivered by APCO and our members.

In March, along with our APCO Board Chair – Sam Andersen, it was a pleasure to represent our membership community at the inaugural Plastics Summit, where several APCO Members made important public pledges.

During the Summit, we also announced that the APCO team will be leading the development of the ANZPAC Plastics Pact, the latest to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network.

ANZPAC, which will formally launch to the public in late 2020, will work with businesses, governments and NGOs from across the plastics value chain in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island nations to develop a common vision of the circular economy for plastics.

Under the ANZPAC program, participants will commit to deliver a series of concrete, ambitious and time-bound targets, which will be established and launched in the coming months.

Then under the ANZPAC Mobilisation Plan, participants will work to deliver a range of projects, clear reporting guidelines, and the development of the Circular Plastics Research Initiative, a new innovation hub that will bring together researchers, investors and industry to share knowledge and align efforts. Finally, all ANZPAC signatories will be required to commit to publicly report on their progress each year.

In April, we also unveiled during an industry webinar one of APCO’s most significant projects to date – Our Packaging Future, the new strategic framework outlining how Australia will deliver the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

Of the 5.5 million tonnes of packaging material placed on the market annually, 88 per cent is currently recyclable, yet just 49 per cent is recovered for use in future applications, with the rest ending up as landfill, or litter on land and in our oceans.

The strategies address issues of packaging design, improved collection and recycling systems and expanded markets for used packaging, and provide a systemic, whole-of-environment approach to building Australia’s sustainable packaging future.

The vision for this report is clear: to build a packaging value chain that collaborates to keep packaging materials out of landfill and maximise the circular value of the materials, energy and labour within the local economy.

This article was published in the May edition of Waste Management Review. 

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