To combat Australia’s waste epidemic, Australia’s Environment Ministers in partnership with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) have announced the plan to make 100% of packaging in Australia reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
The Australian Packaging Covenant has been the principal national instrument to reduce the environmental impacts of consumer packaging in Australia since 1999. It meets its aim by supporting two goals that embody product stewardship and shared responsibility:
- optimising resource recovery of consumer packaging through the supply chain
- preventing the impacts of fugitive packaging on the environment.
The Covenant is underpinned by the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM). It requires companies that produce or sell packaging and packaged products to come up with ways to design more recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging. For further details see the Australian Packaging Covenant.
In September 2018, the federal government also launched the Australasian Recycling Label in a bid to help consumers recycle properly. This label breaks down the components of a product’s packaging (e.g. the box, any internal trays, and plastic wrapping), indicating how recyclable the components are and eliminating any confusion the consumer may have around correctly recycling the packaging.
With the push from both consumer and government bodies, manufacturers are gradually complying with this reform, not only to stay competitive but from a legal perspective as well. However, seeing that the packaging still needs to be fit for purpose and with limited options currently available, companies are having to get creative about how they’re packaging their products through sustainable means.
That said, it’s not enough to just consider the waste created by the end user. Manufacturers need to be thinking about the waste created throughout production as well. This could include anything from the polypropylene strapping used to bundle the boxes to the label liner removed from both the product and shipping labels.
This aligns to the theme of waste reduction that emerged from the Victorian Food Innovation Voucher Program funded by the Victorian government in 2018.