The Australian packaging industry is one of the most advanced in the world when it comes to sustainable realignment; this was the clear conclusion from a European tour taken by APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly, PREP design director Anthony Peyton, and Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko.
The trio were speaking at an industry briefing, which saw some 90 packaging professionals from brands, producers, government, NGOs and PKN pack a room at Sydney's Sofitel, and emerge at the end of the evening mightily encouraged by what they heard (see our gallery of images above).
The event also saw the launch of the new APCO logo, with its nod to the circular economy, and had TV personality Jamie Durie in attendance, there to promote his upcoming show Groundswell, which will highlight sustainability initiatives. Durie said, “It is a chance for people to share their stories of how they are working towards a sustainable future for us all.” The show will be hitting the screens next year on a commercial network.
Opening proceedings, APCO chair Sam Anderson said that though relatively small with 17 staff APCO was achieving great things, “delivering through partnerships”. She said, “APCO is achieving strong outcomes. Tonight's presentation should enable us to gain an strong understanding of the latest developments in circular economy thinking from global leaders.”
First up to present was Brooke Donnelly. She told the audience that the UK had been her first port of call, where she engaged with the Plastics Pact. She said, “From talking to people at the event, listening to presentations, it is clear that the UK and Australia are the most advanced countries. The UK is six months ahead of Australia in its engagement with single-use plastics.”
According to Donnelly, Australia, with the UK, is way out in front when it comes to measuring progress, saying most geographies are “nowhere”.
“Our system is recognised as leading in world terms. We feel under attack, but we should appreciate how advanced we are,” she said.
Donnelly called on the audience not to succumb to a colonial mindset and wait for others to take the lead, but to be confident in their own abilities and decision making.
PREP director Anthony Peyton talked about the visit to Solpack 3.0 in Hamburg, during which the trio had a meeting with the EEC. Peyton took PIDA [Australian Packaging Innovation & Design Award] winning samples to show as examples of how advanced Australian packaging is. He said, “As we talked and presented the Germans were blown away. They want an APCO. What we are doing in Australia is fantastic, and we had a great reception wherever we went. The European Union officer told us that our reputation had preceded us, she said, 'Everywhere I turn this week I am hearing about you Australians. You are making a big impression'.”
Overcoming a touch of laryngitis Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko gave the audience an overview of the trio's time at the World Circular Economy Forum, held in Finland
Klymenko said, “The circular economy is on the agenda of virtually every country and corporate. At the conference a quarter of the delegates were from the public sector, and 36 per cent from business.”
Summing up his key learnings Klymenko said, “First, the circular economy is the defining framework of the 21st century. Everything will be referenced though this. Second, the era of producer irresponsibility is over. And third, creating a carbon neutral circular economy is by far the greatest collaboration humanity has ever undertaken.
“Fourth, metrics are vital to guide us to circularity, and fifth, there will need to be a trade in certified materials and services. It will be essential as few countries are large enough to be fully circular on their own.”
Wrapping up the presentations Brooke Donnelly told the audience that the term waste had to go, to be replaced by secondary materials, which would signify a shift in perception and in action.
Following the presentations the assembled packaging professionals were treated to canapes and drinks, and networked long into the evening discussing the host of topics from the presentations. To be a packaging professional in 2019 is to invite criticism, but the feedback from Donnelly, Peyton and Klymenko's visit to Europe was unequivocal: Australian packaging is leading the charge to a sustainable future.
Brooke Donnelly will be speaking at the upcoming Print21 + PKN LIVE event on Monday 12 August, providing delegates with an update on how Australia is tracking on its journey to the 2025 National Packaging Targets.