Of the 5.45 million tonnes of post-consumer packaging placed on the Australian market in 2017-18, 2.67 million tonnes was recovered, according to a new report from the Australia Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO).
The report also reveals that Australia has exceeded the 30 per cent average recycled content National Packaging Target.
“Today’s benchmark data has confirmed post-consumer recycled content across all packaging was 1.9 million tonnes, or 35 per cent of total packaging,” the report reads.
“With the 30 per cent recycled content target now exceeded, APCO will deliver a consultation process with industry to develop a new, more ambitious target.”
According to an APCO statement, the Australian Packaging Consumption and Resource Recovery Data report maps the complete packaging ecosystem in granular detail, highlighting the performance of key areas within the system.
“The significant research project combines data from packaging manufacturers, packaging reprocessors, material recovery facilities, container deposit scheme operators, and includes analysis of Australian import and export data,” the statement reads.
Of Australia’s 5.45 million tonnes of packaging, more than half was paper and paperboard at 53.2 per cent, followed by glass packaging at 23.3 per cent, plastic packaging at 19.6 per cent and metal packaging at 3.9 per cent.
The report reveals that paper and paperboard have the highest recovery rate at 63 per cent, followed by metal packaging at 48 per cent, glass packaging at 46 per cent and plastic packaging at 16 per cent.
Additionally, the report details how Australia is tracking on the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets – with new benchmark data in areas of packaging recyclability, recycled content uptake and plastic packaging recycling.
The targets aim for 100 per cent of all Australia’s packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 or earlier. The report shows that as of 2018, 86 per cent, or 4.7 million tonnes of all packaging in the market is recyclable.
According to APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly, the single biggest challenge identified in the data is the recycling rate of plastic packaging.
The National Packaging Targets set the target for 70 per cent of Australia’s plastic packaging to be recycled or composted by 2025.
APCO’s data reveals that currently, only 16 per cent of plastic packaging is being recycled or composted for future use.
“Comprehensive and robust benchmarking data is one of the critical milestones in our delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets – a process that shows how Australia is performing currently and, most importantly, what needs to change in order to make the 2025 Targets a reality,” Ms Donnelly said.
“It’s encouraging to see such a significant majority of packaging – 86 per cent – is able to be recycled in the current system. However, what the data confirms for us is that plastic is the critical issue that needs to be addressed.”
Ms Donnelly said APCO will release its 2025 strategic document in February 2020, which sets out a series of key strategies to support Australia’s delivery of the targets.
“Plastics will be a central focus for this plan, along with a range of interventions and recommendations designed to close the gap between recyclable (86 per cent) and recycled (49 per cent) packaging in Australia,” Ms Donnelly said.