24-25 Jul 2024

Benchmarking for 2025 National Packaging Targets

Mar 6, 2020

In response to China’s National Sword, Australia’s Government’s agreed to establish a sustainable path for Australia’s recyclable waste. With regards to packaging, Ministers agreed to reduce the amount of waste generated, to make it easier to recycle products and set a target to make 100% of packaging in Australia reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Brooke Donnelly from APCO moderated the panel and outlined the national packaging targets

  1. All packaging in Australia will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
  2. An average of 30% recyclable content across packaging
  3. 70% of packaging should be recycled or composted
  4. Australia has a phase out of unnecessary single use plastic

Brooke went on to say that all the targets had a 2025 timeline and would be rolled out in three key phases. The foundation phase, which was the focus of 2019. Establishing what are the consumption levels? What is the resource recovery rate? And what is the baseline we are starting from? Then moving into the development phase, what is the road map? What are the activities that need to be undertaken? And enabling those activities to be implemented and tested as we go into the finalisation phase which is very much the back end of the targets.

The question remains, what has been done in the foundation phase to enable data to be collected to form the baseline and metrics for the targets? Donnelly explained that APCO has managed 22 projects in 2019 contributing to the targets, However, there are four key data projects that have lent their expertise to developing the baseline information.

Project 1.1 – focusing on consumption and recycling data. This report sets out how much packaging is in the market in Australia, both imported and manufactured domestically.

Project 1.2 – infrastructure mapping, looking at all the infrastructure in Australia that can support recovery of packaging materials.

Project 1.3 – Economic analysis, analysing the costs, benefits and the impacts of the 9 interventions set out by the targets.

Project 1.4 – Presenting the data collected from the above projects to industry and government. Setting out what the key interventions need to be in order to achieve the targets by 2025.

The findings of this combined data from project 1.1 and 1.2, found that of the 4.5 million tonnes of packaging placed on the Australian market in 2017-18, more than half was paper and paperboard packaging (53.2%), followed by glass packaging (23.3%), plastic packaging (19.6%) and metal packaging (3.9%).

Donnelly continued by saying that paper and paperboard have the highest recovery rate at 63%, followed by metal packaging at 48%.

The panel were asked by Donnelly if they were surprised by anything in the findings? The consensus was the amount of plastic in the market (soft plastic making up a third of all plastic packaging) versus the amount that was being recycled (16%). The Panel went on to say that we assume that if a high number of something is being collected then it must be recycled, for example glass packaging only has a recovery rate of 46% even though It makes up a high percent of the overall market.

You can view the full report released by APCO in November 2019 here.


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