• Geoff Parker, CEO, Australian Beverages Council: Industry is stepping up to the challenge of the circular economy.
    Geoff Parker, CEO, Australian Beverages Council: Industry is stepping up to the challenge of the circular economy.
  • Geoff Parker with Greg Hunt, Australia's Federal Health Minister, at the signing of the industry’s sugar reduction pledge in June 2018 in Canberra.
    Geoff Parker with Greg Hunt, Australia's Federal Health Minister, at the signing of the industry’s sugar reduction pledge in June 2018 in Canberra.

Geoff Parker, CEO of the Australian Beverages Council, takes a closer look at how packaging innovation holds the key to a lighter environmental footprint.

Most of us remember an impactful brand with incredible packaging. Whether it’s bright colours, attractive labels, bold brand credentials, quirky characters or something equally as memorable, packaging is the first thing we see before we buy a product.

There is an immense amount of change in our industry and I am particularly excited to see how brands will tackle the challenge of sustainability and turn it into opportunity. For many companies, they have already done that. I am also particularly eager to see how responsive and intuitive brands are using consumer insights to seize some of these new opportunities in our fast-paced industry.

Our world is changing, and we, as a whole society, have to be more aware of closing the loop throughout the manufacturing and supply chain. As such, we are seeing brands that have a strong social and environmental conscience emerge alongside many of our most established brands, which are also coming up with new sustainability practices. Packaging design has a major part to play in supporting not only brand credentials, but environmental sustainability, too.

In our consumer-driven industry, sustainability is only going to become a more important factor in the consumer’s decision-making process. Just last year, a survey of 20,000 people found 33 per cent of consumers are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact. It is fair to say this figure will only have increased in the time since that survey was carried out.

From members of the Australian Beverages Council, representing about 90 per cent of the non-alcoholic beverage industry in Australia, I hear that packaging is one of the most hotly debated and inspiring parts of their businesses. Whether it’s further lightweight initiatives, innovation to create clever closures or increasing the recycled content in bottles, environmental sustainability is front and centre in the strategic direction of our members.

Estimates suggest that poorly captured plastic packaging represents about an $80 billion loss to the global economy each year. The circular economy imperative is clear – not just for the environment, but for business and consumers alike. It’s also the right thing to do. With a more powerful value proposition to consumers, the whole supply chain will benefit.

In conjunction with other initiatives designed to improve sustainability, such as the recently-announced Australasian Recycling Label, the 23rd year of National Recycling Week and the Australian Government’s National Recycling Targets, FMCG companies, particularly in beverage manufacturing, have rapidly seized sustainability as an opportunity.

In the coming months and years, we will see an industry that has stepped up to the challenge by reviewing their use of packaging in order to create a more sustainable future.

Australia produces 64 million tonnes of waste a year and recycles approximately 35 million tonnes, with about four million tonnes exported overseas. Australia’s 2025 target is to ensure 100 per cent of all packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable. With other industries moving quickly, it is incumbent on companies operating in the recycling industry to step up to the challenge and provide upgrades to waste sorting and recovery, while additional support for developing recycling markets will also be required.

About the Australian Beverages Council
The Australian Beverages Council is the peak body representing the collective interests of the non-alcoholic beverages industry. We strive to advance the industry as a whole, as well as successfully represent the range of beverages produced by our members. These include carbonated regular and diet soft drinks, energy drinks, sports and isotonic drinks, bottled and packaged waters, fruit juice and fruit drinks, cordials, iced teas, ready-to-drink coffees, flavoured milk and flavoured plant milk.

The unified voice of the Australian Beverages Council offers our members a presence beyond individual representation in order to promote fairness in the standards, regulations, and policies concerning non-alcoholic beverages.

The Australian Beverages Council introduced a dedicated juice division, Juice Australia (formerly Fruit Juice Australia), in 2009 and a dedicated water division, the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI), in 2011. Through these, our organisation, and its relevance and impact continue to grow.


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