In another positive step towards meeting the packaging industry's 2025 targets, the federal government has committed $3 million to support recycling projects, including a B2B circular economy e-commerce platform. PKN spoke to APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly.
Four new recycling projects run by Planet Ark and Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) will benefit from the $3 million funding, which is drawn from the federal government's $100m Environmental Restoration Fund.
APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly tells PKN that this support shows government validation of the ongoing sustainability work industry is doing and will provide essential resources and support to drive the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
How will the money be spent?
Two projects are the major beneficiaries.The first and most exciting in PKN's view is the Circular Economy Hub, which receives the largest share of the funding – $1.6 million. Donnelly says the new online platform and marketplace – which Planet Ark has dubbed a B2B 'eBay' for the circular economy – will help drive innovation in the transition to a circular economy in Australia.
The hub has a three-pronged function: to drive awareness and adoption of the Circular Economy (CE); educate and provide implementation information; and enable implementation of the CE.
The platform will match buyers and sellers in waste resources to help them identify products with sustainable materials, including recycled content.
“This online marketplace functionality will help to build the critical end markets for recycled products in Australia and provide essential education to the supply chain about the availability of sustainable options,” Donnelly says.
Recipient of the next largest amount of funding – $1.1 million – is the National Consumer Education Program, which aims to create a consistent national approach to consumer education on reducing, reusing and recycling packaging over the next four years.
Donnelly says, “What the funding will enable is in-depth research and analysis around consumer behaviours in response to the Australian Recycling Label. It will allow us to develop a more refined and robust approach to a national consumer education campaign.
“So far the ARL has been adopted by more than 200 Australian organisations since its launch in September last year,” Donnelly says.
“This new funding will allow the program to expand and include away-from-home recycling, the use of recycled content, compostable packaging, and encouraging reduction and reuse behaviours.”
The sum of $150,000 will go towards the Regional Model for Soft Plastics Recycling project, a partnership between APCO and the Plastic Police, a program developed by Cross Connections to promote regional collection and recycling of soft plastics. The Plastic Police program is currently operating in the NSW’s Hunter Region, and the funding will be channelled towards exploring opportunities for expansion, including deployment in other regions.
Finally, a further $150k will be provided to the Remote and Regional Waste Collection Partnership, a project aiming to support governments and communities to address the challenges of waste and resource recovery in remote and regional areas.