Last year, Magnum was the first ice cream brand to use recycled polypropylene plastic in its packaging and now its rolling out over 7 million new tubs and lids for its pints range.
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.”
UK charity Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme have led an initiative of more than 290 companies to end plastic waste pollution.
Companies including Veolia, Suez, H&M, Nestle, Philips, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, L’Oreal, Mars, WWF, Walmart and Johnson & Johnson have signed an agreement to reach long-term targets, which will be reviewed every 18 months.
- EU Parliament endorses ban on single-use plastics
- Scrunching the issue of soft plastics
- RED Group goes hard on soft plastics
The targets include eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging and moving to a reusable packaging model, ensuring 100 per cent of plastic packaging can be recycled or composted by 2025, and increasing the amount of recycled or reused plastics used in new packaging or products.
More than $200 million has been pledged by five venture capital funds to help build the circular economy for plastics.
“We know that cleaning up plastics from our beaches and oceans is vital, but this does not stop the tide of plastic entering the oceans each year. We need to move upstream to the source of the flow,” Ellen MacArthur said in a statement.
“The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment draws a line in the sand, with businesses, governments and others around the world uniting behind a clear vision for what we need to create a circular economy for plastic.
“This is just one step on what will be a challenging journey, but one which can lead to huge benefits for society, the economy and the environment,” she said.
Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said the Global Commitment is an urgently needed step-change to move from a linear economy to a circular one.
“We want to act and lead by example. We will do our part to ensure that none of our packaging, including plastics, ends up in the natural environment,” Mr Schneider said.
Unilever’s Emma Peacock speaks to Waste Management Review about overcoming the challenges in meeting its target of 25 per cent recycled HDPE in its locally made home and personal care products by 2019.
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.
- Planet Ark provide councils packaging recycling label webinars
- Championing packaging sustainability
- Nestlé’s packaging plan
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.”
Planet Ark is increasing its efforts to educate Australians about Australasia Recycling Labels, including councils and educators.
In partnership with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), the Australasian Recycling Label has entered into a new phase which will allow more companies to adopt it. Organisations such as Australia Post, Blackmores, Nestlé, Unilever and Woolworths have already pledged their commitment to the label.
- APCO’s packaging recycling label program
- Planet Ark partner with Bingo Industries to divert coffee grounds
- Bingo and Planet Ark renew partnership
It has been designed to be easy to understand and show what needs to be done with each piece of packaging to dispose of it in the best way.
Because councils play an important part in the recycling process and are the source of the evidence base used by the label, Planet Ark is hosting a series of free webinars in the coming weeks.
Council and waste industry staff members that are interested can sign up by clicking here.
Webinars are planned for the following dates:
- August 28 – 11am AEST
- September 4 – 11am AEST
- September 12 – 1pm AEST
- September 20 – 1pm AEST
Industry giants, community groups and government bodies came together to tackle the issue of plastic packaging waste in Australia.
Consumer goods manufacturers Coca Cola, Danone, Unilever and Kellogg’s, tech companies Fuji Xerox and Dell, supermarkets Coles and Aldi and senior figures from the NSW Environment Protection Authority met with local community groups to discuss the future of plastic packaging in consumer goods.
- WA Govt fund $1M in grants for waste reduction and recycling
- SUEZ, ACOR, SV respond to Environment Minister meeting
- No more plastic bags from Woolworths
The event was hosted by the Boomerang Alliance with the support of Bloomberg Australia, and examined the infrastructure holes that need to be filled in order to improve Australia’s capacity for waste collection, processing and recycling.
Representatives from Clean Up Australia, Responsible Cafes, Bye Bye Plastic, Planet Ark, Close the Loop and the local Sydney councils of Randwick, Waverly and Inner West Councils also added to the discussion.
A guest panel of speakers shared their expertise and included Australian Packaging Covenant CEO Brooke Donnelly, Waste Management Association Australia CEO Gayle Sloan, Founder of BioPak Richard Fine, and Nature’s Organics CEO Jo Taranto.
Ms Sloan said every council’s waste management has the same definition in their contracts regarding what’s recyclable.
“We have conveyors and depending on the money and infrastructure available, they’ll use infrareds to split out the different types of plastics,” she said.
Most material recovery facilities do this but at a cost and we don’t have enough people buying back [the recycled material]. That’s the problem.”
Mr Fine said it is important that companies are marketing their products as compostable get certified to a recognised standard.
“There’s a lot of greenwashing out there providing vague claims of ‘biodegradable’ which is confusing the consumer and damaging the industry as a lot of these products will simply break down and fragment into small pieces,” he said.
Pictured left to right: Richard Fine, Brooke Donnelly, Justin Dowel, Jo Toranto, Gayle Sloan, Jayne Paramor.
Unilever Australia has announced it is on track to meet 80 per cent of its Sustainable Living Plan commitments, which include improving the health and wellbeing for 1 billion people and reducing the company’s environmental impact by half.
The plan originally launched in 2010 and aimed to decouple the company’s growth from its environmental impact, while increasing the company’s positive social impact.
- APCO’s packaging recycling label program
- Unilever Reaches New Zero Landfill Milestone
- Unilever wins gong at APC awards
Some key commitments include sourcing 100 per cent of all grid electricity used in manufacturing with renewable sources by 2020, becoming carbon positive in its manufacturing operations by 2030 and making 100 per cent of its plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable while increasing the recycled plastic content in its packaging by 25 per cent by 2025.
Unilever Australia and New Zealand CEO Clive Stiff said the company has made good progress towards the targets in Australia and globally and that consumers were increasingly aware of the impact the products they purchase have on the environment.
“We also want to be transparent about how much more work there is still to do. This is critical when we are witnessing a crisis of trust in institutions in Australia and across the world. We believe business must play a leading role in restoring trust, and that at the heart of trust lies transparency,” Mr Stiff said.
“We also know that the biggest challenges facing our nation and our world can’t be addressed on our own. There is an ever-increasing need for us to work in partnership to drive transformational change across our value chain. To do so will require a new level of transparency across the board and business must be part of the solution.”