Last Word

Driving change towards 2025

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation CEO Brooke Donnelly shares an update on the suite of projects happening in 2019 to work towards the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

The 2025 Targets – where are we now?

In 2018, Australia’s state and federal environment ministers endorsed the 2025 National Packaging Targets and, in the process, set Australia on a new sustainable pathway for managing its packaging waste. The four targets will require a complete and systemic change to the way we create, collect and reprocess our product packaging.

APCO is the agency charged with making this change happen. There’s a huge amount of work to be delivered over the next seven years, with engagement and collaboration needed from across the supply chain. This work will take place across three phases, with activity for the foundation phase already well and truly under way:

How we developed our 2019 Project Schedule

A significant amount of work went into developing this priority list of projects.

In February, we released the Materials Flow Analysis report developed in partnership with the Institute of Sustainable Futures to map the flow of packaging in Australia’s waste and recycling system. This report was a critical first step for understanding how the current system is performing, and which data and infrastructure gaps need to be addressed.

In 2018 we also convened five working groups to explore problematic packaging types (the findings and webinars are available online). The groups worked to establish a shared understanding of the problem and to identify projects to be undertaken by stakeholders in the packaging value chain to support achievement of the National Packaging Targets for each material category.

These projects have been reviewed, prioritised and combined with other initiatives, such as the Material Flow Analysis report, and undergone extensive stakeholder consultation to develop a list of projects for implementation in 2019.

What will the projects address?

Detailed packaging consumption research

Building on the findings of our Materials Flow Analysis report, we’ll be conducting a series of additional research projects to establish baselines that will allow us to measure the impact and progress of the 2025 targets.

They will address specific data gaps identified in the MFA report and by the five problematic materials working groups. This includes mapping the existing infrastructure for the collection, sorting and recycling of packaging, and developing economic analyses of alternative collection systems and end markets for targeted materials to identify opportunities for improved quality (e.g. source separated glass) or capacity (e.g. glass fines).

These findings will all feed into a larger strategic analysis of current resource recovery systems to identify opportunities to nationally align and improve recovery rates for used packaging materials in Australia.

Targeted design resources

We will deliver a range of new resources and support tools to help businesses and packaging manufacturers to improve their packaging recyclability. These will include:

  • A series of ‘Quickstart’ guides to address common design challenges identified in the recently updated Sustainable Packaging Guidelines.
  • A range of material-specific design guidelines to improve recyclability for soft plastics, compostable packaging, wine packaging and packaging used in the food service industry.
  • Following member feedback, we are creating a range of new resources to guidance on lifecycle assessment (LCA) approaches for packaging. This includes a half day June training course – The Use of Lifecycle Assessment Tools for Sustainable Packaging Design – delivered in partnership with the Australian Institute of Packaging.
  • We are looking forward to rolling out the next phase of the Australasian Recycling Label, with the introduction of a new Recycled Content label and a Compostability label. Both of these projects will have a series of trials and research papers to ensure they are evidence-based, and work in alignment with the current collection and processing systems available.

Industry engagement projects to improve collection and processing  

These projects range from trials to determine the compostability of different certified materials, and pulpability trials to investigate pulpability of polymer coatings and non-wood fibres.

We’ll be working together with groups like Boomerang Alliance and Plastic Police to explore solutions at a regional level and delivering a workshop to find solutions for the collection challenges experienced in remote and regional communities.

Procurement projects to drive materials circularity

Resource recovery is about more than just collection and sorting. We need to create economically viable end markets to drive demand for recycled content. In 2019 we will deliver five unique projects to drive procurement of recycled content, including campaigns to support industry and government on how to make sustainable purchasing choices, including how and where to source recycled content.

We will be showcasing the Australian businesses that are already utilising recycled soft plastics – and share the processes and methods to help other businesses follow their lead.

Who else is involved in bringing the projects to life?

With such a significant body of work to deliver, the projects will be supported by a wide network of partners and stakeholders.

Our 2019 Advisory Groups will lead the day-to-day delivery, with four teams, comprising 87 industry and government experts coming together to explore the themes of: design, materials circularity, systems and education and the 2025 National Packaging Targets implementation.

Overseeing all of this work will be the Collective Action Group (CAG) – a team of leading industry and government representatives which will oversee the strategic delivery of the targets. Made up of a team of 12 third-party experts representing the packaging value chain, the CAG will oversee the design of a systemic model for how Australia can transition to an advanced sustainable packaging ecosystem.

When will findings be available?

Most projects are underway, with results scheduled to be released in Q3 and Q4. However, we will be sharing updates throughout the year.

How can you play a part?

Everyone has a role to play in solving Australia’s packaging challenges. Circular economies are built on collaboration and engagement – it is vitally important that we play our part in the transition to a circular economy for sustainable packaging in Australia. If your organisation is part of this important work and would like to know more about a specific project, please contact our member services team today.

In 2019 the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation and its network of partners will launch 22 new projects as part of the program to deliver the 2025 National Packaging Targets. Throughout the year, APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly will be sharing regular online updates about the work, key findings and how people can show their support and get involved.


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