In what has been hailed as a milestone event, the Australian Government joined business leaders to announce new targets to reduce packaging waste and improve recycling in Australia.
At a meeting convened by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and hosted by Pact Group in Melbourne today, Minister for the Environment Melissa Price joined leaders from packaging, retail, logistics, manufacturing, recycling and waste management businesses in a pledge to better manage packaging waste.
Companies and organisations supporting the pledge include 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.
The 2025 National Packaging Waste Target builds on commitments made by Commonwealth, state and territory environment ministers and the president of the Australian Local Government Association in April this year to set a sustainable path for Australia’s recyclable waste.
The 2025 national packaging waste targets are:
1. 100% of all Australia’s packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 or earlier
2. 70% of Australia’s plastic packaging will be recycled or composted by 2025
3. 30% average recycled content will be included across all packaging by 2025
4. Problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging will be phased out through design, innovation or introduction of alternatives
Minister Price congratulated APCO, Woolworths and the initial working group of key business leaders including Coca-Cola Amatil, Goodman Fielder, Nestlé, Pact Group, Simplot and Unilever in tackling Australia’s waste challenges and supporting these ambitious targets.
Alex Holt, GM Quality and Sustainability at Woolworths 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.”
At the event, Minister Price also officially launched the Australasian Recycling Label as an important tool for achieving the 2025 national packaging targets. The new labelling system was developed by Planet Ark, PREP Design and APCO to help consumers better understand how to recycle packaging.
With more than 200 recycling labels currently being used in Australian packaging, the new evidence-based system is designed to combat confusion about recycling and reduce the levels of contamination in the waste stream.
Minister Price said, “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.”
According to APCO, to date more than 50 Australian businesses have committed to the ARL program, with the label now being used by brands including Woolworths, Officeworks, Nestlé, Blackmores, Australia Post, Unilever and Plantic.
"These APCO members have committed to the design, manufacture and use of packaging that will ensure recyclable packaging. The Australasian Recycling Label will now help people correctly dispose of that packaging," said APCO CEO, Brooke Donnelly.
Margaret Stuart, Nestlé’s head of Corporate and External Relations, Oceania, said that the inclusion of the label on Nestlé’s packaging served as a demonstration of Nestlé’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.”
APCO will lead the collaborative effort to deliver on the 2025 commitment and, along with Planet Ark and PREP Design, will also play an important role in the delivery of the Australasian Recycling Label.
“The leaders present today recognise the significant and complex task ahead and acknowledge the importance of the collective commitment required by all stakeholders to achieve these outcomes," APCO's Brooke Donnelly said.
"This includes comprehensive programs to upgrade waste sorting and recovery and support for developing recycling markets.
"The review of Australia’s National Waste Policy that is currently underway will address the entire supply chain from creation through use, collection, recovery and recycling of packaging waste."
"The Australian Government supports the National Packaging Targets and looks forward to working with APCO, businesses and the waste management industry in taking action on waste towards 2025," Donnelly said.