• In 2019 Browne's Dairy launched Australia's first 100% renewable milk carton. The cartons are made from wood fibres and sugar cane, both renewable resources.
    In 2019 Browne's Dairy launched Australia's first 100% renewable milk carton. The cartons are made from wood fibres and sugar cane, both renewable resources.

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), in partnership with Dairy Australia and the Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF), has published a sustainable packaging roadmap for the dairy industry to fuel the sector's push towards the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

The Australian Dairy Sustainable Packaging Roadmap to 2025 looks at the current state of play regarding sustainable packaging in the dairy industry, and examines what needs to be done as the industry works towards achieving the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

“This roadmap clearly lays out the path the dairy industry needs to take in the coming years to achieve the 2025 targets,” said Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO.

“Collective action across the supply chain is an absolute necessity, and it is fantastic to see the willingness already on display across the dairy industry to make the transition to a more sustainable model.” 

Considerable progress has already been made by dairy manufacturers, but the industry continues to face a series of barriers and challenges. The new roadmap provides a collective vision and framework for improving the sustainability of dairy packaging moving forward, along with direction for the industry on the progress now required, highlighting opportunities for collaboration on the road towards the 2025 targets, and the development of a sustainable circular packaging ecosystem in Australia.

“This is another great example of collaboration across the dairy industry,” said David Nation, managing director, Dairy Australia.

“It’s the first time a national dairy sector has come together anywhere in the world at this level to endorse a collective call to action and work together to deliver a sustainable approach to packaging.”

As part of the plan laid out in the roadmap, dairy manufacturers will review all of their packaging to identify and implement opportunities to optimise for sustainability. This includes exploring possibilities for the elimination and/or reduction of packaging items, reusable packaging, improved recyclability, and the increased use of recycled content. 

To achieve these goals, dairy manufacturers are seeking support from other stakeholders. The roadmap lays out a number of actions needed across the supply chain, including:

  • Packaging manufacturers and researchers to innovate and develop alternatives to non-recyclable packaging formats;
  • Recyclers to provide sufficient quantities of food-grade recycled resins to allow manufacturers to meet recycled content targets without compromising product quality and safety;
  • Consumers to reuse or recycle dairy packaging at end of life;
  • National, state, territory and local governments to provide fit-for-purpose regulatory frameworks, to ensure safety standards and verification of end-to-end resource recovery and recycling systems, through inter alia – the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM), Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), Industry-based regulators, and other instruments as required to support achievement of the 2025 targets and ensure appropriate safety standards are in place.

The roadmap was developed in collaboration with the Australian dairy manufacturing industry, with extensive consultation across the entire dairy packaging value chain over more than 18 months. 

“The industry is investing in its future with 13 dairy manufacturers and the three major retailers formally endorsing the roadmap,” said Janine Waller, executive director at the ADPF.

“In 2019-20, the dairy processing industry re-invested nearly $476 million in capital, and has a record of investing in sustainability initiatives with a focus on reducing packaging waste. This roadmap will help further the industry’s efforts and we look forward to sharing achievements as we work towards the 2025 National Packaging Targets.”

Jenny Phillips, packaging sustainability manager for Asia-Pacific at Fonterra said that the Roadmap is a great example of companies across the dairy industry coming together to deal with a common issue.

“When it comes to making packaging more sustainable, particularly for dairy products, it’s not an easy process and there are lots of challenges to overcome. However, by working together as an industry, we can not only reach the 2025 targets, we can do so faster, which is a great thing for the environment,” said Phillips.

Mark McDonald, executive general manager for beverage operations at Bega believes this is a great step forward for the entire dairy industry. 

“At Bega, we are fully aligned with the industry roadmap that has been put forward and we are committed to delivering our own sustainability targets, as well as the 2025 National Packaging Targets,” McDonald added.

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