APCO drafts new packaging strategy

packaging strategy

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) is setting a bold new path to lead packaging circularity through to 2025 and beyond.

More than 800 participants recently joined APCO’s 2024 Roadshow, providing feedback to help shape the 2030 Packaging Strategy.

Businesses have worked hard to meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets, however, APCO said a lack of system-wide alignment has been a barrier. As such, the 2030 strategy takes on a bold new vision to align the entire system to strengthen social licence to use packaging.

The strategy is based around four principles: Transforming the packaging value chain; closing economic gaps; having brand owners take responsibility on an equitable and efficient basis; and a system administrator with strong links across the system.

On its website, APCO states that delivering on the National Packaging Targets and the goal of the covenant requires transformation of the packaging value chain that goes beyond past approaches.

Data shows that Australia is not on track to meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets. Despite some progress in design, labelling, and recycled content, recent reporting reveals insufficient advancement, particularly in recycling rates, notably for plastics and cardboard.  The evolving landscape demands a bold shift in approach to meet both industry obligations and community expectations regarding recycling.

Transforming the system requires closure of critical economic gaps encompassing design, collection, recovery and end-markets.

Achieving this requires substantial investment in additional infrastructure. Currently, the cost of collecting and recycling this packaging is higher than the value of the recycled materials itself.  System transformation must address the economic realities of the packaging value chain.

APCO said it is important that costs are fairly and strategically allocated to where collection, sorting, and reprocessing efforts can be most effective.

Currently, APCO membership fees are primarily designed to cover operational costs and are not collected to account for the environmental impact of specific materials. To address this, APCO’s 2030 strategy proposes the introduction of eco-modulated fees.

These fees vary based on the environmental impact and volume of the materials used, promoting more sustainable packaging design and material choices. This approach has been implemented successfully in several European countries, including France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

 The co-ordinating role is complex, both in designing and administering the mechanism and what is likely to be a range of supporting programs (e.g. labelling, technical support, stewardship implementation). A single entity should have carriage of this role, and that entity must be a ‘change maker’, not merely an ‘administrator’.

 APCO will submit its 2030 strategy to the Federal Environment Ministers prior to the mid-year meeting.

Subject to the Environment Minister’s endorsement, an engagement process will follow to support the design and development of eco-modulated fees. This process will consider the forthcoming National Packaging Design Standards and Targets post-2025. Once finalised, APCO aims to communicate the eco-modulated model by the end of FY 2025.

For more information, visit: www.apco.org.au

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