Australia's Environmental Ministers have commited to all packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, as part of the Toward 2025 initiative.

Eco News from Australia. Published by anonymous on Friday 27 April 2018.

Australia's Environmental Ministers have commited to all packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, as part of the Toward 2025 initiative. image

Ministers agreed to the ambitious target that 100 per cent of Australian packaging be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025 or earlier to cut down on the amount of waste we produce. The 100 per cent target will be delivered by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, working with its 950 member companies and other stakeholders.

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.

How does the Covenant work?

The Covenant is an agreement between the Australian, state and territory governments and the packaging industry. The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation Ltd (APCO) is an independent, not-for-profit company established to administer the Covenant on behalf of government and Covenant Signatories.

The Covenant applies to businesses in a supply chain that produce packaging or packaged products and have an annual turnover of $5 million or more. These businesses are required to choose between becoming a Signatory to the Covenant or meeting equivalent individual compliance obligations under the NEPM. As a Signatory, businesses agree to work collaboratively to achieve sustainable national packaging outcomes. Individual NEPM compliance obligations are implemented by the laws and arrangements of participating states and territories where a business sells or distributes its products. The NEPM thus provides free-rider protection for Signatories, to ensure they are not competitively disadvantaged by their participation in the Covenant.

Packaging strategy and priorities

In November 2016, environment ministers endorsed the new Australian Packaging Covenant and five-year strategic plan developed by APCO in consultation with Australian, state and territory governments, and endorsed by the National Environment Protection Council.

The 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, delivered by APCO, focuses the work of the Covenant on improving resource efficiency through sustainable packaging design, diverting packaging from landfill through consumer education and packaging disposal labelling, and improving packaging sustainability performance through research and sharing of knowledge across industries.