Figures shows drop in Australian packaging recycling

Baled packaging waste
The overall recycling rate for post‐consumer packaging in Australia was 61.3 per cent for 2014/15 –  a drop of 2.9 per cent over the past financial year.

The announcement from the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) in December states that trends over the past 12 years, since the report was established, continue to be positive despite this slight decrease.

The recycling rate is calculated with reference to the volume being consumed and the structure of what is a relatively undersized end market for recycled products.

Total consumption for all packaging materials was 4.74 megatonnes, a rise of 169.2 kilotonnes or 3.7 per cent on the year before. Recovery and recycling was at 2.91 megatonnes, a decrease of 29.0 kilotonnes or 1 per cent over the same period. Overall, the recycling rate fell by 2.9 per cent over the past financial year.

The APC says experience shows year-on-year fluctuations are normal due to recovered versus reused volumes. A number of factors can impact the recycling rate.

As significant volumes of packaged food and drinks continue to be imported into Australia, fluctuating levels between imports and local supplies do not necessarily balance out across a 12-month period. In particular, glass volumes showed a downturn in 2014/15, which had an impact on the overall amount materials percentage recycled.

Imports of empty packaging are growing, with glass a significant example of this. Glass recycling alone fell by 6 per cent to 41.4 per cent in the year.

Over the longer term, the recycling rate has markedly improved from the 39 per cent baseline first recorded in 2003, which the APC attributes to effective kerbside collection systems and collaborative product stewardship programs.

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