A new recycling plant in Albury/Wodonga will increase the amount of recycled PET plastic produced in Australia each year from local waste.
Pact Group, one of Australia’s largest rigid plastic product manufacturers, will invest $500 million into plastics recovery infrastructure, research and technology over the next five years.
Pact Group Non-Executive Chairman Raphael Geminder made the pledge at the first National Plastics Summit at Parliament House this week, following news the company plan to develop a plastic pelletising facility with Cleanaway and Asahi.
According to Mr Geminder, the company will partner with government and industry to invest in new facilities for sustainable packaging, reuse and recycling initiatives.
“Our stated vision is to include 30 per cent recycled content across our product portfolio by 2025. Across our business, this would be the equivalent of keeping nearly two billion plastic containers out of landfill,” Mr Geminder said.
“Just as importantly, we will be creating jobs for Australians in the circular economy – a new and growing sector where we believe Australia can lead the world.”
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the commitment was encouraging, with industry leadership to reduce plastic waste, increase recycling and create jobs a critical outcome of the summit.
“Pact’s announcement at the National Plastics Summit follows announcements from major brands McDonald’s and Nestlé, with McDonald’s committing to phase out plastic cutlery by the end of 2020, removing 585 tonnes of plastic waste per annum,” Ms Ley said.
“This adds to McDonald’s previous commitment to phase out 500 million straws every year and takes the total annual plastic reduction to 860 tonnes.”
Furthermore, Nestlé will partner with waste management company IQ Renew on a soft plastics collection trial, to be tested at 100,000 homes.
“The recycling economy starts here, this is where we take what are now seen as problems and turn them into assets that create remanufactured products, which create jobs and which grow our economy,” Ms Ley said.
Additional commitments include $650,000 from PepsiCo to support Greening the Green, a program aimed at educating consumers on soft plastics, and Unilever announcing it will halve its use of virgin plastic in production and packaging by 2025.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation announced it would lead the development of the ANZPAC Plastic Pact, a new program within the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Plastics Pact Network.
“ANZPAC will provide the significant intervention required to meet Australia’s national plastic packaging target – that 70 per cent of all plastic packaging will be recycled or composted by 2025,” Ms Ley said.
According to Assistant Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans, the summit was an important step in working with industry to drive long-term practical outcomes, such as increasing Australia’s recycling rates and domestic reprocessing capabilities.
“We are looking towards fundamentally changing the way we think about and manage our waste, and creating new markets for recycled products,” he said.
“This transformation towards a circular economy will both create jobs and help our environment.”
Cleanaway, Pact Group and Asahi Beverages have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop a plastic pelletising facility in Albury/Wodonga.
According to a joint statement, the facility is anticipated to process up to 28,000 tonnes of plastic bottles and other recyclables into flake and food grade pellets.
“The cross value chain collaboration uniquely combines the expertise of each participant,” the statement reads.
“Cleanaway will provide available feedstock through its collection and sorting network. Pact will provide technical and packaging expertise, and Asahi Beverages and Pact will buy the majority of the recycled pellets from the facility to use in their packaging products.”
Pact Managing Director and CEO Sanjay Dayal said the facility would service markets across the East Coast, and create approximately 30 local jobs in regional Australia.
“I am thrilled with this arrangement and the opportunity to work with Cleanaway and Asahi in making a meaningful step in improving the plastics value chain,” he said.
“The arrangement is clearly aligned with our vision to lead the circular economy, and will support Pact in achieving our 2025 Sustainability Promise to offer 30 per cent recycled content across our packaging portfolio.”
According to Cleanaway Managing Director and CEO Vik Bansal, the partnership will create valuable raw materials from the recyclables Cleanaway collects and sorts.
“It is a natural extension of our value chain and expands our footprint of prized assets,” he said.
Asahi Beverage Group CEO Robert Iervasi added that the venture would allow Asahi to utilise Australian sourced recycled plastic resins to assist its transition to using only recycled plastics.
“I am excited by the opportunity to participate in a market winning strategic alliance that closes the loop of the circular economy, and contributes to a sustainable plastics supply chain by combining our strategic capabilities,” he said.
The project is supported by an Environmental Trust grant awarded to Cleanaway, as part of the NSW Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.
The facility is expected to be operational by December 2021.
Consumers are aware of the problems caused by packaging waste but expect the industry to provide more sustainable options, according to research launched by packaging company Pact Group.
The research has found 91 per cent of Australians are concerned about the impact of packaging, with 76 per cent more concerned about packaging waste now than they were five years ago.
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Despite this, the research has found that less than half would be willing to pay more for a product with environmentally friendly packaging.
Pact Group, Executive Chairman Raphael Geminder said that Australia’s packaging industry needs smarter packaging waste solutions, with consumer sentiment shifting and government action forthcoming.
“We can no longer simply rely on consumers to solve the problem, we need government and industry working side by side to create scaled, standardised solutions to tackle packaging waste,” Mr Geminder said.
“In order to realise this vision, we require industry-wide collaboration to simplify the recycling process for consumers.
“An integrated approach will allow us to deliver innovation at scale so new solutions do not simply increase cost and lose value. Consumers should not be forced to choose between value and sustainability,” he said.
The company has announced its own targets to meet those outlined by the Environment Minister Melissa Price last week. Pact Group aims to eliminate all non-recyclable packing, offer 30 per cent recycled material across its portfolio and provide solutions to reduce, reuse and recycle all single use secondary packaging in supermarkets by 2025.
Mr Geminder said there are tangible, incremental changes that can be made today, with longer-term changes which will require cross industry collaboration.
“I will be calling on my industry colleagues to work together with us on common platforms, agreed standards and processes that will create a framework for manufacturers, brand owners and retailers to solve problems systematically,” he said.
Image Credit: Pact Group. Pictured Raphael Geminder (L) and Melissa Price (R)
New targets within the 2025 plan have been outlined alongside the launch of the Australasian Recycling Label.
The new targets aim to aim to increase the average recycled content within all packaging by 30 per cent and phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through design, innovation or the introduction of alternatives.
Additionally, the targets aim to ensure 70 per cent of plastic packaging is recycled or composted.
These build on the previous announcement of a target to achieve 100 per cent of Australian packaging being recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025.
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The targets build on commitments made by federal, state and territory environment ministers and the President for the Australian Local Government Association earlier in April this year.
Industry representatives and environmental groups support the targets including Aldi, ALGA, Amcor, Australia Post, Boomerang Alliance, Chep, Close the Loop, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coles, Detmold, Goodman Fielder, Lion, Metcash, Nestlé, Orora, Pact Group, Planet Ark, Redcycle, Simplot, Suez, Tetra Pak, Unilever, Veolia, Visy and Woolworths.
Woolworths General Manager, Quality and Sustainability Alex Holt highlighted the importance of this collaboration.
“We’re really pleased to see such a wide range of industry players come together in support of such a worthy goal. Moving towards a circular economy won’t be easy, but we have the right mix of organisations on board to help make it a reality,” Mr Holt said.
Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price congratulated the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the initial working group of businesses that are supporting the targets.
Minister Price has also officially launched the Australasian recycling Label to help achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, developed by Planet Ark, PREP Design and APCO to help consumers better understand how to recycle packaging.
“The Australasian Recycling Label provides people with easy to understand recycling information when they need it most, in those few seconds when they are deciding what bin the package goes in. The label removes confusion and reduces waste,” Ms Price said.
With more than 200 recycling labels currently being used in Australia, the new system aims to reduce confusion and contamination in the waste stream.
Nestlé Head of Corporate and External Relations Oceania Margaret Stuart said the inclusion of the label on Netslé’s packaging was a demonstration of the company’s commitment to sustainability.
“More and more people who buy our products want to know how to manage packing waste, so we have committed to implementing the Australasian Recycling Label across all our locally controlled products by 2020,” Ms Stuart said.
Unilever ANZ CEO Clive Stiff has said the announcements are a critical step towards greater collective action on increasing the nationals recycling capability.
“Plastic packaging waste represents an $80 billion loss to the global economy every year. The benefits of the circular economy approach are clear for business and the environment – the more effective use of materials means lower costs and less waste,” Mr Stiff said.
“We are proud to have recently announced that bottles of popular Unilever products like OMO, Dove, Sunsilk, Surf and TRESemmé will soon be made with at least 25% Australian recycled plastic.
“This is just the start for us and no business can create a circular economy in isolation. Heavy lifting is needed from all players involved – suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, policy makers and retailers, collectors, sorters and recyclers. We need a complete shift in how we think about and use resources.”