Person holding a sustainable toothbrush, with a collection of sustainable straws paper, metal and metal straw cleaners.
The simplest way to reduce plastic waste is to avoid unnecessary and problematic plastics. Improving product design is the most effective way to reduce the amount of plastic waste we create.
Actions to avoid problematic and unnecessary plastics
Work with industry to fast-track the phase out of polymer types in certain applications, and consider regulatory action should industry phase outs not be achieved:
- Phase out plastic packaging products with additive fragmentable technology that do not meet relevant compostable standards (AS4736-2006, AS5810-2010 and EN13432) (July 2022)
- Phase out expanded polystyrene (EPS) from loose packaging fill and moulded packaging in consumer packaging (July 2022), and EPS food and beverage containers (December 2022)
- Phase out PVC packaging labels (December 2022)
Work with Boomerang Alliance to eliminate single-use plastics from Australia’s favourite beaches and support local businesses to switch to alternative products.
Hold a Plastics Design Summit in 2021 for product designers and manufacturers to showcase their sustainable product design.
Industry to transition towards higher-value, easily recyclable plastics such as PET, HDPE, LDPE and PP, and encourage the design of easier to recycle products.
Industry to deliver 4 National Packaging Targets by 2025 of which 2 concern prevention:
- 100% of packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable
- phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic.
A collection of sustainable straws: paper, metal and metal straw cleaners
Polypropylene rolls for packaging. Best used for promoting chemical products and recycled products.
Packing goods in cardboard box with styrofoam material for safe transportation of cargo.
The simplest way to reduce plastic waste and pollution is to avoid unnecessary and problematic plastics. Several state and territory governments have already taken successful steps to ban specific problematic single-use plastics. The following are case studies that highlight how industry and government are taking the necessary steps to reduce the amount of problematic and unnecessary plastics used in Australia.
Officeworks has taken action to reduce unnecessary packaging material, including expanded polystyrene (EPS).
Officeworks has removed EPS from all packaging for furniture items, avoiding approximately 800,000 pieces of EPS each year. Strong relationships with international partners have allowed Officeworks to also influence the progress of removing or reducing polystyrene in their packaging for technology products.
Officeworks has also continued their commitment to the Australasian Recycling Label. It now features on over 4,000 of their own brand products. By phasing out EPS and becoming a member of RedCycle, over 90% of Officeworks private label products are now fully recyclable.
Through their Positive Difference Plan, Officeworks aims to make all private label packaging fully recyclable or reusable by December 2021.
ALDI Australia (ALDI) has made a commitment to reduce plastic packaging in their stores by 25%. ALDI exclusive brand product packaging will be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
These form part of the Plastics and Packaging Commitments announced by ALDI in 2019 to reduce its impact on the environment.
Examples of how ALDI has transitioned away from unnecessary plastics include:
- A switch to cardboard punnets for a range of fruit and vegetable lines and the removal of plastic bags from banana stands.
- Introducing compostable zucchini trays, which has diverted over 76 tonnes of plastic from landfill.
- Switching to clear meat packaging to reduce the use of difficult to recycle black plastic packaging.
- Introducing paper-stemmed cotton buds by the end of 2020 which will avoid over 357 million plastic stems ending up in landfill each year.
- Switching to more compostable and recyclable alternatives to plastic tableware by the end of 2020.
ALDI will continue to publicly report on the progress of its Plastics and Packaging Commitments, starting from 2020. See ALDI’s sustainable development goals.
The Australian Government will work with industry and state and territory governments to phase out problematic single-use plastics. This delivers on Target 5 of the National Waste Policy Action Plan (NWPAP).
To deliver on these targets the Australian Government will work with industry to phase out the most problematic and unnecessary plastic materials currently in circulation.
Many state, territory, and local governments have already banned certain problematic, unnecessary and single-use plastics and plastic packaging.
Many businesses are also taking proactive steps to phase out problematic plastic packaging. Plastic packaging represents approximately one million tonnes of Australia’s annual plastic consumption. In 2018-19 about 85% of plastics no longer used were disposed to landfill. This has resulted in at least 50 mega tonnes of plastic accumulating in Australian landfills.