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“Monumental call to action” for packagers

Wednesday, 02 May 2018
By Print21

The Federal Government has endorsed an Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) proposal to make all Australian packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. 

Australia’s federal, state and territory environment ministers met in Melbourne to coordinate a response to China’s waste import restrictions that have left local councils struggling to cope with rapidly increasing stockpiles of recycled material, most of it collected from household bins.

About 30 percent of Australia’s recyclable paper and 35 percent of our recyclable plastic was previously sent to China.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the environment ministers endorsed a target of 100 percent of Australian packaging being recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 or earlier. Governments will work with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), representing over 900 leading companies, to deliver this target. Ministers endorsed the development of targets for the use of recycled content in packaging, and this will be closely monitored.

‘It’s essential that we take a consistent national approach’: Brooke Donnelly, CEO APCO.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the government would also invest in trash-burning incinerators and look into landfill gas capture. “Obviously we’d like to see waste reused or recycled, primarily, but waste-to-energy is a legitimate source of generation.”

Brooke Donnelly, CEO of APCO, said: “The China issue presents a significant opportunity for Australia to shift to the next level in packaging resource recovery, recycling and end use.

“Today’s announcement is a monumental call to action and one of the most ambitious and decisive environmental targets to be supported in Australia. We applaud the Federal, State and Territory Governments for stepping up as key players in the global movement to create sustainable packaging solutions that drive accountability, transparency and shared value for consumers, industry and government.”

The agreement was dismissed as inadequate by The Greens and environmental groups. The Australian Council of Recycling (ACR) said the meeting was a start but the 2025 target was not ambitious enough. “They’ve acknowledged these themes but need to move more quickly,” said ACR CEO Peter Shmigel.

Donnelly said APCO would support more innovative packaging design, enhance consumer education, and bolster the re-use and the incorporation of recycled content. “Across these initiatives, it’s essential that we take a consistent national approach. One that will promote domestic recycling and resource recovery to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill and deliver a smaller, cleaner waste stream in Australia.”

Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez welcomed the agreement. “We recognise businesses must step up and find improved solutions to reduce, re-use and recycle.”

APCO represents 950 member companies, covering the entire product life cycle and supply chain.

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