A host of sustainable leaders gave an optimistic overview of developments in recycling in the first panel session of AUSPACK, in the What's Good for the Planet is Good for Business conference session this morning, and highlighted ongoing issues.
Hosted by Craig Reucassel from the ABC's War on Waste, the four person panel discussed recycling in front of several hundred delegates. On the heavyweight panel were Steve Lapidge, CEO of Fight Food Waste; Brooke Donnelly, CEO of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation; Caitlyn Richards, Responsible Sourcing Manager at Coles; and Paul Klymenko, CEO at Planet Ark.
The panel considered closed loop recycling, the recyling supply chain, bioplastics and compostability, recyling of polypropylene, the circular economy, government investment or lack of it in recycling, the need for recyclers to engage with disruptive practices, and the progress of the Australian Recycling Label. They highlighted different companies engaging in innovative practices such as Biopack and Noosa Plastic Free.
Planet Ark CEO Klymenko said recyclers need ot move away from like-for-like recycling and consider the broader opportunities, "such as turning polypropylene waste into one of the ingredients for making roads. It provides additional strength and flexibility."
APCO CEO Donnolly said that virtually all the major packaging producers - the likes of Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever - were now on board with the recycling drive and their responsibilities, with the top 25 producers attending a round table last week with government ministers. She said, "There is no doubt the major brand owners are fully engaged and committed to developing sustainable environmentlaly friendly solutions."
Caitlyn Richards from Coles said the supermarket giant had recycled 542 million pieces of flexible film since it introduced a bring back scheme in 2011.
Speaking to PKN Packaging News after the session host Reucassel said the packaging industry is not moving fast enough to keep up with consumer expectations in its development of a sustainable waste-free future, but what it was doing was appreciated. He called on the industry to step up the pace.