AWRE provides platform for packaging innovations

packaging innovations

The Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo (AWRE) will provide a speciality platform for the latest packaging innovations when it returns to Sydney this month. 

Like any waste stream, the packaging industry faces several key challenges. One is ensuring that everyone follows the same harmonised design standards, which helps eliminate waste at the start of the new product development process.

Nerida Kelton, Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and Vice President of Sustainability and Save Food, World Packaging Organisation (WPO), says it’s also important that packaging designers and technologists understand the end of life for their materials and packaging types according to kerbside collection and Materials Recovery Facilities capabilities within Australia.

“The AIP believes that all packaging should be designed for circularity to ensure that virgin materials are used less, materials already in the market are used as many times as possible, the materials are seen as a valuable resource, and we have available end markets,” Nerida says.

Several steps need to be taken to achieve a circular economy for packaging. One is designing out waste at the start of the process by ensuring packaging is recycle-ready. The industry also needs to work to eliminate chemicals of concern while reducing the use of virgin materials as much as possible.

“The objective is to keep all packaging out of landfill,” Nerida says. “We want to keep it out of waterways and the environment, to ensure that we stay within our planetary boundaries.”

She says that this year’s AWRE theme, Transitioning to a Circular Economy, is an ideal platform for AIP to help visitors find new packaging opportunities.

What is the industry doing?

Under the WPO and AIP, much of the packaging industry is already working hard to redesign packaging for a lower environmental impact.

Image: Diversified Communications

“Since the 2025 National Packaging Targets were established, we have seen some very innovative and intuitive sustainable packaging placed on the market,” Nerida says. “Through the AIP education and training programs, the institute works with all sized brands to embed the 10 Sustainable Packaging Design Guidelines into their business. The changes are evident yearly through the Australasian Packaging Innovation & Design (PIDA) Awards program that the AIP co-ordinates for the industry in Australia and New Zealand. The shifts are also seen globally through the WorldStar Packaging Awards, co-ordinated by the World Packaging Organisation, with PIDA winners sitting in the top three innovative countries in the world for the past four years.”

The AIP is a non-profit educational institute that has served the industry for more than 60 years. The institute covers Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, and its single purpose is to train everyone who works in and around packaging to design better packaging that is fit for purpose, functional, and offers the lowest environmental impact.

“The AIP educational portfolio is open for everyone in the industry,” says Nerida. “It is not just members, as it is important that everyone can fill their knowledge gaps in all packaging areas. The AIP has developed successful training programs designed for SMEs so that they can learn about the 2025 National Packaging Targets, how to embed the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) on all packaging and how to use the 10 principles for Sustainable Packaging Design in any sized business.”


The AIP is sponsoring a pavilion at AWRE and welcomes other packaging companies to join it. Nerida believes this is a fantastic opportunity for the industry to collaborate more with government agencies, councils, resource recovery, waste, and recycling businesses.

“We need to come together more often to learn from each other and to collaborate on achieving a circular economy for packaging in Australia.”

During AWRE, the AIP will also offer two packaging sessions and one mini-training course.

On July 24, the AIP will host a packaging session on how to meet global and regional packaging design standards. The session will guide attendees on how to design their packaging to consider the implications of the upcoming Federal Government-mandated National Packaging Design Standards, the new EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulations, and the Sustainable Packaging Design Guidelines. 

It will also use global design guides that are intuitive and easy to use, such as the WPO Global Packaging Design for Recycling Guide.

The second packaging session will take place on July 25, focusing on the future growth of the Australasian Recycling Labelling Program. More than 500,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) across Australia and New Zealand use Australasian Recycling labelling on their packaging. This session will discuss the changes and updates to the ARL program, the ARL Marketplace, and consumer insights into the ARL program. It will be a panel discussion with several experts in the ARL program.

The mini-training course, on July 25, will educate attendees on the value of embedding ARL on packaging. Nerida says if brands moved to incorporate the ARL on all packaging across Australia and New Zealand, it would increase the chance to improve the recovery of recyclable materials and reduce contamination in the waste stream.

The future of AIP

The AIP aims to continue to be the peak professional body for packaging training and education.

“When the mandated National Packaging Design Standards are finalised, I suspect there will be an even greater need for the AIP to help the industry design better packaging that is fit for purpose, functional, and offers the lowest environmental impact,” says Nerida.

“The AIP education team is always available to help guide anyone who needs assistance.” 

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