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APCO has launched the Collective Impact Report outlining actions required to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets. The overarching message is this: more action needs to be taken, and fast.

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) Collective Impact report, launching at APCO's Collective Impact Summit today, delivers a critical analysis of Australia’s current progress towards the 2025 National Packaging Targets and explores the need for alternative interventions to support the transition to a circular economy for packaging in Australia.

The report identifies the current system performance and emerging gaps that may impact progress towards the circular economic transition.

Analysing data for the 2019-2020 period, the report highlights current material losses in the packaging system, from design through to collection, sorting and reprocessing. 

An estimated 45% of packaging was disposed to landfill in 2019-20, the report states, representing a loss of resources valued at approximately $360 million. An additional 1.9 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions could have been avoided if this material had been recycled instead of being landfilled.

 

APCO's report states there are still "significant gaps" to achieve the 2025 Targets for recovery and recycled content. The biggest challenge is clearly in the plastics recycling space, where the 16% recovery falls far short of the 70% target. Problems identified include poor source separation of kerbside materials; insufficient collection of non-kerbside household materials; insufficient collection of commercial and industrial packaging; inadequate sorting capacity in MRFs; and insufficient reprocessing capacity.

When it comes to the target for average recycled content, barriers vary across material types. For Paper & Paperboard, an additional 500,000 tonnes of PCR material will need to be added to meet the target. For Glass, there is currently insufficient supply of quality recycled feddstock. In the case of Metal, packaging is exported for recycling due to the lack of local capacity, and Plastic is limited by a lack of availability of recycled feedstock that meets quality requirements, particularly for food grade.

Having identified the specific gaps that remain for each of the targets, the report provides a clear list of actions required from businesses and organisations across the packaging value chain on the road to achieving the 2025 Targets.

Brooke Donnelly, CEO, APCO, said: “The core message of this report is clear – if we are going to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, we all need to do more and the time to act is now. We have seen fantastic progress so far towards the Targets, but we must accelerate our efforts if we are to be successful by 2025.

“The gaps identified in the report require significant attention and we need to see a wholesale collaborative effort from actors across the supply chain to address these. It’s absolutely critical that businesses across every industry sector engage with this report and discuss within their organisations how they will work to address these gaps.”

The next stage of this systemic change will require bold interventions in policy, production, education and engagement.

The report identifies the actions required within the three core areas of activity in sustainable packaging – packaging designed for circularity, improved collection and recycling systems, and expanded markets for used packaging.

Donnelly continued: “APCO’s role is to bring together key contributors across the value chain to collectively work towards these priority strategies. Achieving the 2025 Targets is a significant challenge for Australia that requires all the system stakeholders to be working together and at their best to be successful.”

The report was discussed in detail today (18 November) by Brooke Donnelly and Dr Helen Lewis as part of APCO’s Collective Impact Summit, which brings together businesses and organisations from across the packaging value chain to discuss what needs to be done moving forward and how best to work collaboratively to achieve this.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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