Big brands back plastics recycling push

sustainable packaging

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), ALDI, Coles, Woolworths, The Arnott’s Group and Unilever welcome a $60m funding boost to the Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF).

The funding comes as APCO prepares to launch the Recycled Materials Pledge, which aims to drive greater uptake of recycled content in packaging by its members, and on the heels of a $50m investment into CSIRO’s Ending Plastic Waste Mission, which will involve industry, government and CSIRO working to change the way Australia makes, uses, recycles and disposes of plastics.

About 95 per cent of plastic packaging consists of virgin material. Increasing the average amount of recycled content in packaging is a core element of the 2025 National Packaging Targets, with a target of 50 per cent average recycled content and 70 per cent of plastic packaging to be recycled or composted.

Brooke Donnelly, Chief Executive Office of APCO, said it is crucial that recovered plastic is treated as a resource and seen as a critical way to ‘close the loop’.

“No materials are truly recycled until they are used again so it is vital that we expand our end markets for recovered plastic to ensure it goes back into the economy. This is the final step in a transition to a true circular economy. Innovative solutions to help businesses to increase the amount of recycled plastic being used in new packaging are essential. This funding will be key to supporting industry on this journey – to a future where plastic is no longer waste.”

Daniel Baker, Director Corporate Responsibility, ALDI Australia, said ALDI is focused on reducing its impact on the environment in relation to waste, recycling, packaging and energy and carbon emissions. ALDI aims to reduce at least a quarter of all own-brand product plastic packaging by 2025, as well as increase the use of recycled materials across its range. It also aims for 30 per cent recycled content in plastic packaging by 2025, in addition to a commitment to achieve 50 per cent recycled content across all packaging materials.

Simon Lowden, Chief Transformation Officer, Arnott’s Group, said the Arnott’s Group remains committed to achieving the 2025 National Packaging Targets and welcomes the Government’s efforts in this space.

Thinus Keevé, Chief Sustainability, Property and Export Officer, Coles, said realising Australia’s National Packaging Targets will require action across each part of the packaging value chain.

“We understand our customers want us to reduce packaging and to make it easier for them to recycle. We also know that packaging, including plastic packaging, plays a key role in protecting products during transport, extending product life, keeping food safe and reducing food waste. Initiatives that drive the use of recycled plastic material in Australia will help close the loop on plastic packaging and support the transition to a circular economy.”

Brooke Sprott, Head of Sustainable Business & Communications – ANZ, Unilever, said the company was working to reduce its use of virgin plastic, increase use of post-consumer plastic, and ramp up recyclability of packaging.

“There’s currently a gap in the availability of traceable, food-grade recycled plastic in Australia. The Government’s announcement will help close this gap by accelerating Australia’s transition towards a circular economy, increasing capacity for hard-to-recycle materials like soft plastics, which can be collected and processed into a traceable stream of food-grade recycled plastic, and then re-used into packaging for our brands and many others.”

 Adrian Cullen, Head of Circular Packaging Solutions, Woolworths 360, said the company’s first preference will always be to remove plastic from packaging where possible.

“Where plastic can’t be taken out of packaging altogether, we’re committed to reducing its environmental footprint by increasing our use of recycled plastic. Large-scale investments in Australia’s recycling capability, such as this additional funding from the Federal Government, are vital in our collective pursuit of a better tomorrow.”

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