First major retailer to use 100 per cent recycled satchels

One of Australia’s largest online fashion retailers has announced it will start transitioning to delivery satchels made from 100 per cent post-consumer plastic waste.

In a social media post on Tuesday 26 May, THE ICONIC stated that it’s the first major Australian and New Zealand retailer to make the move to 100 per cent recycled plastic satchels.

Via REDcycle, a Melbourne-based consulting and recycling organisation who has developed and implemented a recovery initiative for post-consumer soft plastic, THE ICONIC will minimise its environmental impact.

From today we’re transitioning to more sustainable satchels. This means your next order sent by THE ICONIC warehouse will be delivered in a satchel made of 100 per cent post-consumer plastic waste – recycled plastic that has had a previous life and can be recycled again,” the company said in an online statement.

“Achieving 100 per cent recycled content wasn’t easy in our usual black design, so we’ve made the switch to white! Bringing this project to life has been an incredible journey and involved many cross-functional teams.”

Since 2018, THE ICONIC has been a signatory of the Australian Packaging Covenant (APCO). 

“A huge congratulations to APCO Member, THE ICONIC, for the launch of its new delivery satchels, made from 100 per cent recycled plastic and fully recyclable via REDcycle bins in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets,” APCO said in a social media post on Tuesday.

“This is a significant commitment and is a perfect example of the work being undertaken across the industry to avoid the use of virgin plastics and create end markets for recycled materials.”

The satchels are certified by the GECA (Good Environmental Choice Australia) Recycled Products Standard to verify their recycled content and ensure they meet specific social and environmental criteria. 

“It’s a bold move, but it’s a testament to our sustainability commitments. In the same way, because we are committed to avoiding unnecessary waste, our transition from our former black packaging to new white packaging will take a few months,” the company said in an online statement.

“This is a huge milestone for us on our journey towards meeting our 2022 Sustainable Packaging Targets.”

THE ICONIC set five sustainable packaging targets to meet by 2022, including 100 per cent of THE ICONIC’s shipping packaging made of recycled content and private label primary packaging materials will be fully recyclable in Australia, 80 per cent of THE ICONIC’s private label paper and cardboard packaging will be made from verified recycled pulp and have on-package communication about their sustainability or recyclability and lastly, 70 per cent more of THE ICONIC’s private label poly bags made of recycled plastic.

During THE ICONIC’s search for a more sustainable alternative, its sustainability team and Packaging Working Group investigated multiple materials and even tested a home-compostable satchel. 

“Despite being one of our best performers, most customers in Australia and New Zealand don’t have access to composting at home nor access to commercial compost services,” THE ICONIC stated.

“It means packaging would likely end up in landfill or in the soft plastics recycling stream, compromising its potential for recycling. That’s why we landed on our 100 per cent recycled post-consumer plastic satchels,

“To align with this framework, we are working on packaging sustainability holistically: our in-house sustainability team developed a dedicated packaging strategy, reviewed over 80 per cent of the packaging we are directly responsible for, and developed THE ICONIC Supplier Sustainable Packaging Guidelines and Private Label Sustainable Packaging Requirements to tackle our non-customer facing packaging strategy,” the company stated on its website.

THE ICONIC said that packaging plays an essential product-protection role in ensuring that its customers’ items arrive in pristine condition. 

“This way, your new purchase can have a long life in your wardrobe and warrant the original investment of natural resources in production. The cost of not protecting these items can be more detrimental than if they weren’t packaged sufficiently,” THE ICONIC stated.

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WA to launch cigarette butt litter campaign in 2019

The Western Australian Government is planning to roll out a campaign that targets littered cigarette butts and packaging after it was found they made up more than a third of the state’s litter.

Keep Australia Beautiful WA’s 2017-18 National Litter Index (NLI) has found discarded butts were responsible for pushing up the state’s litter statistics with a 21.9 per cent increase in cigarette litter. The butts and packaging accounted for 3376 of the 9550 litter items recorded by the count.

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Littering had increased by 2.6 per cent across WA compared to the previous year’s results, but overall littering was still 21 per cent lower than what had been recorded in 2015-16. Takeaway packaging litter in WA had been reduced by 11.3 per cent, according to the NLI with beverage containers also down by seven per cent.

The NLI is measured twice each financial year each state and territory. Litter across 151 sites within 50 kilometres of Perth’s CBD is measured as part of the index, looking at highways, beaches, retail and shopping areas, car parks, recreational parks and residential and industrial areas.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia.

“Littered cigarette butts do not break down and are often washed into waterways, causing contamination,” Mr Dawson said.

“They can be mistaken for food by our wildlife and are a blight on the beauty of our state’s natural environment.

“The efforts of the majority are being undermined by the selfish acts of the few who litter. If you are a smoker, please dispose of your cigarette butts responsibly into waste bins. Failing to do this is an offence,” he said.

Consumers expect sustainable packaging from industry: research

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)

Melbourne City waste forum’s top 10 ideas

Around 80 retail and hospitality businesses have gathered for the City of Melbourne’s first waste forum, which looked at ways to assist medium sized businesses could reduce waste.

The forum resulted in more than 200 practical ideas and concepts which will be compiled and reviewed by the City of Melbourne as part of the council’s ongoing programs to assist small and medium businesses in the city.

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The top 10 ideas for waste reduction were identified in the forum and included installing more recycling bins across the city, installing additional organics recycling facilities and providing incentives for businesses to reduce their waste.

Additional ideas for businesses to reduce waste included the introduction of grants or loans and education to improve waste management.

Collaboration between businesses and waste collectors was also identified as a way of improving recycling.

Other ideas identified included the collection of unwanted office or shop fit out furniture for reuse and investigating a city-wide coffee/tea cup exchange system.

Participants included businesses involved in the council’s initial pilot program, which saw 27 businesses receive a $2000 grant to embark on waste reduction activities.

City of Melbourne Councillor Susan Riley recognised the need to look at ways to help small to medium sized retail and hospitality businesses to reduce waste.

“Reducing waste does so much more than just help to clean up the environment, it also can reduce costs, increase sales and even cut the number of garbage trucks on the city streets,” Cr Riley said.

“The level of insight and the number of opportunities for businesses to work together to reduce waste is inspiring.”

“Nothing is being ruled out, we’re open to all ideas and we want retailers and businesses to share their thoughts as we plan for a rapidly growing city.”

Image Credit: City of Melbourne

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