The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has increased the National Packaging Target for recycled content levels from 30 to 50 per cent, as outlined in its new Our Packaging Future report.
“As Australia has already met the original 30 per cent recycled content target, a new all packaging average target of 50 per cent has been co-developed with key stakeholders in the packaging supply chain in order to drive increased demand and end-markets for post-consumer material collected in Australia,” the report reads.
“This increased target will encourage the use of an additional 1.3 million tonnes of material in packaging, from both local and imported sources.”
The report, which outlines critical steps required to deliver Australia’s National Packaging Targets, was unveiled by Assistant Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans and APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly at an industry webinar on 31 March.
According to Ms Donnelly, 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 remainder ending up as landfill or litter.
“Our Packaging Future combines data and insights from more than 200 authors and contributors, to identify the current critical challenges contributing to this gap. It then maps the strategies required to move away from our current take, make and waste approach to managing packaging,” Ms Donnelly said.
“The strategies address issues of packaging design, improved collection and recycling systems and expanded markets for used packaging, and provides a systemic, whole of environment approach to building Australia’s sustainable packaging future.”
Key recommendations include launching a National Consumer Education Campaign, APCO convening a CDS National Working Group as a collaborative forum to facilitate consistency and alignment of future closed-loop schemes, and developing new reuse models for consumer and B2B packaging.
According to Mr Evans, governments around Australia are relying on APCO and its members to bring about a more sustainable approach to packaging.
“This report shows that about half of all packaging in Australia is not currently being recovered, and that is the gap we need to bridge to achieve the National Packaging Targets by 2025,” he said.
Further recommendations include exploring and facilitating waste collection partnerships in regional and remote areas, including potential collaboration with other product stewardship schemes where kerbside collection is not feasible, and developing a traceability and verification program for recycled content in packaging and products.
“Our planet has finite resources to meet our ever-increasing consumption. Business as usual is simply not going to sustain our communities into the future. We will not accept a future defined by waste stockpiles, inefficient waste recovery economies, self-interest and fragmented regulation and policy approaches,” Ms Donnelly said.
“The vision for this report is clear: building 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.”