New guidelines address compostable packaging confusion

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has published new guidelines to help businesses make informed choices when considering compostable packaging.  

The guidelines were developed in partnership with the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) and the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA).

Designed to cut through confusion, Considerations for Compostable Packaging aims to help industry professionals – particularly brand owners, packaging technologists and designers and food service providers – decide when and where to use certified compostable plastic packaging, and associated items like cutlery.

Based on systems and infrastructure currently available, APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said the guidelines identify potential applications and opportunities for certified compostable plastic packaging, with a strong emphasis on packaging that can also facilitate food waste collection. 

“These include food caddy liners, fruit and vegetable stickers and ‘closed-loop’ situations such as festivals,” she said. 

Recommendations are also provided on how to correctly communicate with end consumers, including accurate certification and correct language for labelling and marketing.

Additionally, statements to avoid are highlighted, including misleading terminology and “greenwashing claims” that contribute to unintentional litter and contamination of mechanical recycling systems. 

“With brands facing intense consumer pressure to move away from plastics, coupled with thousands of Australian food outlets turning to takeaway packaging formats for the first time, there’s never been a more important time for businesses to receive accurate and consistent information about compostable packaging,” Ms Donnelly said. 

“Compostable plastics currently account for around 0.1 per cent of plastic packaging on market in Australia. Yet we know that it is a market that is growing and one that causes real confusion – for both industry and end consumers.” 

According to ABA President Rowan Williams, the development of Considerations for Compostable Packaging was an opportunity for peak industry bodies to collaborate on guidelines for industry and consumers.

“The collaborative nature of the work in getting this guideline out has been outstanding. The guidelines look up and down the value chain, at where the raw material comes from and also where the finished packaging will go to, such as organics recycling, in the future,” he said. 

“The ABA, as custodian of the only verification scheme for claims of certified compostability to the Australian Standards, welcomes the advent of the guidelines and looks forward to continuing collaboration with APCO, AORA and industry stakeholders.” 

AORA Chair Peter Wadewitz said as a suitable alternative to non-recyclable packaging, AORA supports the use of AS4736 certified materials for the source separation of food waste in the home or in commercial settings.

“Compostable coffee cups, capsules and compostable bags can all be successfully utilised through normal organic recycling processes, without concern of contamination,” he said. 

The full report is available to download on the APCO website.

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APCO launches weekly sustainability webinar series

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APOC) has launched a new sustainability webinar series to help industry professionals stay connected.

APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said the weekly APCO Community Meeting events are designed to bring together sustainability experts from across the business, government and environmental communities to explore ideas.

“These include packaging specific topics – such as sustainable packaging design and strategy, recycled content and labelling for resource recovery and also broader sustainability ideas, including building a circular economy in Australia, recycling in remote and regional communities, and how to communicate your green credentials,” she said.

According to Ms Donnelly, the APCO team have worked hard to build a community that works collectively to address “significant and pervasive” sustainability issues.

“In this new and changing world of work, we want all those who belong to the APCO community to know they have the support of this collective group, and to make sure no one is left feeling disconnected or isolated,” she said.

“We are now up to our sixth webinar in the series, and it has been so rewarding to be joined by hundreds of professionals every week who are equally as engaged and passionate about this space. We look forward to seeing even more of you in May.”

Webinar schedules will be released monthly. May’s schedule, including links to register, is available below:

6 May: Launch of the Compostables Guidelines

Certified compostable packaging will play a small but important role in the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets. But it is also an area that poses significant confusion – for industry and end consumers.

‘Considerations for Compostable Plastic Packaging’ is a new APCO resource, providing clear direction forward on the role of certified compostable plastic packaging in Australia.

Speakers: APCO’s Lily Barnett, AORA’s Peter Wadewitz and Rowan Williams from the Australasian Bioplastics Association.

To register click here.

13 May: Deep Dive: PREP Assessment

This week will take a deep dive into the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) – the online verification tool that assesses how packaging will behave in the Australian and New Zealand resource recovery systems, and powers the Australasian Recycling Label.

In this session tailored to users assessing their packaging, such as packaging technologists and developers, the discussion we will explore some of the common technical queries that emerge when conducting an assessment.

Speakers: Australasian Recycling Label Program Manager Lily Barnett and PREP Founder Anthony Peyton.

To register click here.

20 May: The Importance of a Packaging Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan  

This week will address how and why having a packaging sustainability strategy and APCO Action Plan can help support organisations on their packaging sustainability journey.

To register click here.

27 May: Promoting Green Credentials

Research demonstrates that sustainability issues are among the fastest growing concerns for consumers worldwide. 2019 research from Monash Business School found 92 per cent of consumers believe sustainable business practices should be standard, and not the exception.

This session will explore why it is important for brands to effectively communicate their sustainability achievements, and the practical tools and processes for getting started.

To register click here.

To subscribe to Waste Management Review with free home delivery click here

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Sustainability Victoria opens packaging investment grants

Sustainability Victoria is offering grants of up to $50,000 to support organisations in Victoria to reduce packaging waste disposed in landfill.

According to a Sustainability Victoria statement, significant policy shifts in key markets for Victoria’s packaging waste have had a considerable, negative impact on the markets for these materials, primarily impacting plastics, paper and cardboard.

“The Investment Support Grants – Packaging will support small to medium sized enterprises, not-for-profits and social enterprises to overcome financial barriers associated with investing in projects that lead to packaging waste reduction, recovery and reuse,” the statement reads.

“To reduce the amount of packaging materials disposed of in landfill, we are supporting generators, recyclers and those that reuse packaging waste in Victoria to reduce waste generation, increase the quality and quantity of materials recovered and to grow demand for reuse.”

Eligible projects must be completed within 12 months, with a financial contribution ratio of 1:1.

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Atritor Turbo Separator: Wastech Engineering

The Atritor Turbo Separator was developed to separate products from their packaging, releasing them for recycling or disposal.

Available through Australian distributor Wastech Engineering, the Turbo Separator enables up to 99 per cent of dry or liquid products to be separated from their packaging with minimal contamination. This allows the contents to be used for compost, anaerobic digestion or animal feedstock.

The Turbo Separator can be manufactured in a range of throughputs up to 20 tonnes per hour.

Additionally, the process is so efficient that it leaves packaging relatively intact and clean to facilitate downstream recycling. According to Wastech, when compared to other methods of packaging separation, the Turbo Separator achieves higher separation efficiencies with lower power consumption, resulting in reduced operating costs.

The Turbo Separator is ideal for separating out of specification, out-of-date and mislabelled products from a variety of packaging, including cans, plastic bottles and boxes. The diverse range of applications includes the separation of paper from gypsum in plasterboard, general foodstuffs from their packaging and liquids from their containers.

It is available complete with in-feed and out-feed conveyors and liquid transfer pumps. The Turbo Separator, with its durable construction and adjustable paddles, enables the separation of a wide variety of products.

Each Turbo Separator installation can be configured to suit multiple applications and a variable shaft speed enables enhanced separation efficiency. The machine is available in mild steel and stainless steel to suit the application.

WMR switches to ABA approved packaging

Waste Management Review has made the switch to Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) approved compostable packaging for all magazine mail-outs.

The material is certified home compostable to Australian Standard AS 5810-2010, with home compost testing accommodating longer time frames at lower environmental temperatures than industrial composting.

ABA certification requires a product to prove properties according to specified test methods, including disintegration and biodegradation to a specified extent within specific time frames and not containing harmful substances.

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Packaging belt life to capitalise on industry growth

As the 2025 National Packaging Targets deadline approaches, resource recovery facility operators are presented with an opportunity to capitalise on expected throughput growth.

Between 2017-18, Australia generated 4.4 million tonnes of packaging waste, with only 68 per cent collected. Of that 68 per cent, 56 per cent was recovered via recycling.

In contrast, the national packaging targets aim to ensure 70 per cent of all plastic packaging is recycled by 2025. In addition to delivering significant environmental outcomes, the targets are set to grow economic opportunity in the sector through increased material availability.

To capture this potential, Mark O’Brien, BSC Product Manager, says recycling plant operators need to invest in streamlined equipment processes to ensure consistent throughput levels and quality recyclate. He adds that this includes the installation of durable and high efficiency belt drives.

While belt drives might not represent the most high-tech or glamourous component of an average recycling plant, Mark says superior strength and high grip belts are critical to maintain operations and minimise downtime.

“Sorters, conveyors and crushers are all central to the recycling process and are typically belt driven by an electric motor,” he says.

“BSC provides a wide range of belt drives to facilitate recycling applications, from our economy range right up to high performance V and Timing Belts.”

To provide a complete power transmission package, Mark says BSC works closely with American manufacturer of Carlisle drive belts by Timken.

Carlisle belts have been manufactured in the USA since 1905. The billionth Carlisle belt was sold in 2015. Recently acquired by The Timken Company, Carlisle belts are backed by a long history, yet continue to innovate and introduce new belt lines and products to market.

New lines include the Panther XT synchronous belt which acts as a powerful alternative to chain and polyurethane belts. Timken also launched its Drive Engineer mobile web app to assist in the design and maintenance of Carlisle belt drives in 2017.

“We have been working with Carlisle since the early 90s and have developed a very strong working relationship, which will continue to grow under The Timken Company for the marketplace,” Mark says.

BSC is the sole distributor of Carlisle belts in Australia and offers a range of Carlisle belts including Raw Edge Cog Belts. Super II, Blue Label, Power-Wedge, Wedge-Band belts, Super Vee-Band belts, Double Angle v-belts, Poly-Rib belts and Panther timing belts.

With over 15,000 different industrial belt combinations available, Mark says BSC are able to handle most power transmission applications; notably packaging recycling facility conveyor belts. He adds that different application requirements insist on varied and specific belt drives.

“In applications that require some level of slippage, a V belt is the best solution and you have variety of options within the Carlisle range” Mark explains.

“For applications with no slip requirements and synchronised drives however, I’d recommend a timing belt such as the Panther synchronous belt.”

According to Mark, correct installation and tensioning is necessary to ensure the proper operation of the entire belt drive and will guarantee long service life.

“When a drive is set up correctly and still failing, it likely points to something else incorrect in the system, belts act as a safety fuse in the system” he says.

“In that case, our engineering service can work on the machine to identify incorrect maintenance practices and drives or detect issues with other components that are affecting the belt life.”

Mark adds that by upgrading their belt drives, facility operators can reduce energy consumption, pulley sizes and hub loads through a lower quantity of belts required.

Additionally, he explains that belt drive construction and design can influence overall lifespan, power transmission and efficiency.

“The longevity of belt drives equates to less downtime, greater motor efficiency and reduced maintenance costs. Carlisle belt efficiency can be as high as 98 per cent,” he says.

“BSC recognises the positive impact its specialised products and services can, and do, have on helping customers become more sustainable across economic and environmental objectives.”

With the functionality of Carlisle belts specifically designed for the harsh environments of resource recovery, Mark says BSC is perfectly situated to assist capacity upgrades in the growing packaging recycling sector.

“BSC has extensive experience working with numerous companies in the packaging industry across Australia,” Mark says.

“That experience enables us to understand the special needs of those businesses and product processes, including energy conservation, high sustained speeds, continuous production, heavy leads and wet and dusty environments.”

For more articles like this go to: www.lets-roll.com.au

                                             

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Looking to 2020 and beyond: APCO

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) CEO Brooke Donnelly provides an overview of some of the collaborative, sector-led projects that are helping to scale up the circular economy for packaging here in Australia.

Read more

Woolworths launches Loop reusable packaging program

Beginning mid-2021, Woolworths shoppers with have access to sustainable home delivery through TerraCycle’s zero-waste reusable packaging solution Loop.

According to a Woolworths statement, the program allows customers to consume a variety of commonly used products such as washing detergent, shampoo, juice and ice cream in customised, brand-specific, durable packaging that is delivered in a specially designed reusable shipping tote.

After use, the packaging is collected or can be dropped back in store, where it is cleaned, refilled and reused.

Woolworths Quality, Health & Sustainability General Manager Alex Holt said Loop is just the beginning of a long term partnership agreement between Woolworths and TerraCycle.

“We are pleased to be working with innovative partners like TerraCycle to lead the way in offering new and cutting-edge solutions to cut down on plastic waste,” Ms Holt said.

“Helping bring Loop to Australia is a further step in our long term ambition to reduce our impact on the environment and support a circular economy.”

Loop Global Business Development Vice President Anthony Rossi said Loop is the first global platform to offer consumers a way to move from disposability to durability with their purchases.

“Woolworths is the perfect partner to bring Loop to Australia, due to its operational scale and commitment to environmental sustainability,” Mr Rossi said.

“Together, we will help eliminate the idea of waste and bring a better product experience to consumers.”

Launching the partnership this week, Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews praised Woolworths’ commitment to sustainability.

“I congratulate Woolworths for showing the initiative to embrace a recycling solution that will significantly reduce its waste packaging,” Ms Andrews said.

“It is vitally important that both governments and the private sector play their part in reducing waste and embracing recycling solutions. I look forward to other businesses adopting similar initiatives.”

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APCO launches food packaging guidelines

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has launched its Food Services Packaging Sustainability Guidelines, a new resource to help Australian food service businesses achieve sustainable packaging outcomes. 

Launched at the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo, the guide provides a step-by-step approach for food service organisations aiming to minimise packing waste and improve recycling and compositing rates.

According to APOC CEO Brooke Donnelly, the guidelines were developed in close consultation with government, the food service industry, waste handlers, composters and recyclers, academics and community groups.

“Food service businesses are facing unprecedented pressure and confusion, as they navigate not only the growing consumer backlash against problematic and single-use plastics, but also a rapidly changing marketplace that’s inundated with new materials and disruptive models,” Ms Donnelly said. 

Designed through the lens of the waste hierarchy and utilising a circular economic approach, Ms Donnelly said the resource will provide organisations with a framework for reviewing and implementing more sustainable food service packaging options, incorporating considerations such as materials and recyclability, waste capture and handling and alternative delivery models. 

The guidelines also provide real-world implementation examples that evaluate barriers to implementation and practical guidance on overcoming challenges, with case studies from Qantas, GPT Group and Hobart City Council.

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APCO hosts inaugural single-use plastic packaging workshop

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has hosted Australia’s first national workshop dedicated to phasing out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging.

The workshop, held in Adelaide, was coordinated by APCO as part of its work to deliver the 2025 National Packaging Targets, which include phasing out all problematic and unnecessary single use plastic packaging in Australia by 2025.

According to APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly, the workshop focused on understanding national policy approaches and the role of organisations within their supply chain, in an attempt to provide greater confidence that industry actions are aligned and compatible with government priorities.

“The session also assisted APCO in defining its program of work in this space for 2020,” Ms Donnelly said.

Heysen Member and Natural Resources Committee of Parliament Chair Josh Teague delivered the keynote address on behalf of South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs.

“It was fantastic to welcome Mr Teague to speak on behalf of Minister Speirs, a great advocate and champion for addressing problematic and unnecessary single use plastic packaging in Australia,” Ms Donnelly said. 

“It’s an honour to be part of this great collaborative effort here in the leading circular city of Adelaide, as we define a pathway forward for how we translate the current national policy work into tangible outcomes for our local communities.”

Workshop representatives included:

Industry: Coles Group, Woolworths Group, ALDI, IKEA, Qantas, Coca-Cola Amatil, McDonald’s, MARS Food, Biopak, Keep Cup and Carlton & United Breweries.  

Industry Associations: National Retail Association, South Australian Independent Retailers, Australian Food and Grocery Council and the Australian Organics Recycling Association.  

Government: Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy, Green Industries South Australia, Australian Local Government Association, Local Government Association of the Northern Territory, WA Local Government Association, WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, QLD Department of Environment and Science, East Waste, Local Government Association of the South Australia, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Community / Academia: University of Tasmania, Queensland University of Technology School of Design, Loop Circular Economy Platform, Keep South Australia Beautiful and the Loop Circular Economy Platform.

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