Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans has reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to drive the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
Speaking to an audience of 180 at this year’s Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) Awards in Melbourne, Mr Evans congratulated APCO on its progress thus far.
Going “off script” Mr Evans told attendees that before entering politics he served as the National Retail Association’s CEO.
“It’s fair to say that all those years ago, APCO had a mixed reputation, as it looked to take the next steps in its journey,” Mr Evans said.
“I think I can be blunt in saying that under Sam and Brooke’s Leadership it has found direction and all of the passion and drive that it needs to take APCO into the future.”
APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly expressed similar sentiments, telling the crowd that over the covenant’s 20 years there had been both good and bad moments.
“Especially over the last two or three years, it’s been a very challenging time. There was a time where we weren’t sure we would be here this evening, that we wouldn’t be able to continue to do the work that we do,” Ms Donnelly said.
“But we’ve managed to come back from that and find a way forward – a way that is so much more progressive, that is acknowledging the contribution that industry can make, and how industry and government can work together collectively in this space.”
Ms Donnelly added that much of that work came to fruition with the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
“We went to the MEM meeting in April 2018, and got asked a very big question: we’ve got this problem, it’s called the China National Sword, what can we do about that?” Ms Donnelly said.
Ms Donnelly said National Sword represents a tipping point and a time where APCO as an organisation, and Australia as a country, had rethink its approach to waste and resource recovery.
“Kudos to the Australian Government for agreeing on a target – just one guiding light to get us where we need to be, and to empower and endorse APCO to be able to do the work to get us there,” she said.
This year’s APCO Annual Awards took place on the organisations 20th anniversary and showcased businesses leading the way in sustainable packaging design and innovation across 18 separate categories.
“Tonight marks the 20th anniversary of APCO, and reflecting on the importance of the organisation’s work, it might just be the time to put our heads together this evening and think about a more exciting name for your awards night,” Mr Evans joked.
The assistant minister said that if politics had taught him anything, it was the importance of selling your message. He then made two suggestions, the “Pulitzer Prize for Packaging” and the “Walkley’s for Waste”.
According to Ms Donnelly, finalists and winners were selected based on their performance in sustainable packaging design, recycling initiatives and product stewardship programs to develop sustainable supply chains.
The event’s premier award, Sustainable Packaging Excellence, went to supply chain specialists CHEP, for their work delivering a global reusable packaging model.
BioPak took out the Outstanding Achievement in Leadership Award for its commitment to sustainability initiatives, including the development of compostable packaging for single-use food service items.
This year’s event also featured two new categories – High Performing New Member, which went to Marechal Australia, and the APCO Sustainability Champion Award, a category recognising individual achievement.
The Sustainability Champion Award went to Endeavour Drinks Quality and Sustainability Manager Diarmaid O’Mordha.
Mr O’Mordha was recognised for his commitment to improving packaging sustainability across the wine industry supply chain, and working in partnership with APCO to develop the Sustainable Packaging Guidelines for the beverage industry.
“All of tonight’s winners and finalists have demonstrated industry leadership and excellence in sustainable packaging,” Ms Donnelly said.
“While these initiatives represent different approaches to this challenge – research, design, innovation or collaboration – what they collectively demonstrate is that Australian industry is driving forward with the positive business case for sustainable packaging.”
In his keynote address, Mr Evan’s also touched on the Federal Government’s plans and policy priorities in the wider waste and resource recovery space.
“This is an area of policy that has very quickly gone from zero to hero, and in a short period of time we are seeing that rapid transition. These issues take centre stage in the national conversation,” he said.
Mr Evans added that for too long, government’s across Australia have not be sufficiently forward thinking when it comes to waste.
“It is defiantly the case that the policies that have been brought to the table in the last few years have been diverging in all sorts of directions,” Mr Evans said.
“I’m sure many of you in this room wouldn’t need convincing about the need for harmonisation and national leadership across all of the jurisdictions and all the levels of government.”
In reference to the COAG export ban, Mr Evans said that while the phased ban represents a significant step forward, it needs to be backed up by a series of simultaneous policy changes.
“We need appropriate funding that will drive the investments that we need to see in Australia, to create confidence and certainty to help industry make those investments,” he said.
“The achievements on show tonight demonstrate the strength of Australian industry’s leadership on the sustainable packaging issue.”
The 2019 APCO Awards winners are:
• Sustainable Packaging Excellence- CHEP Australia
• Outstanding Achievement in Industry Leadership- BioPak
• Outstanding Achievement in Packaging Design- Panasonic Australia
• Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Packaging Operations- Amgen Australia
• APCO Sustainability Champion- Diarmaid O’Mordha
• High Performing New Member- Marechal Australia
• Chemicals & Agriculture Sector- LyondellBasell Australia
• Clothing, Footwear & Fashion Sector- Hugo Boss Australia
• Electronics Sector- Dell Australia
• Food & Beverage Sector- Red Rooster Foods
• Homewares Sector- LEGO Australia
• Large Retailer Sector- Coles Supermarkets Australia
• Logistics Sector- CHEP Australia
• Machinery & Hardware Sector- RYCO Group
• Packaging Manufacturer Sector- Detmold Packaging
• Personal Care Sector- ABC Tissue Products
• Pharmaceuticals Sector- Amgen Australia
• Telecommunications Sector- SingTel Optus