The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) works with government and businesses to reduce the environmental impact of packaging in Australia.
A co-regulatory arrangement establishes APCO and the obligations for businesses to manage their packaging waste in a sustainable way. It embodies an industry-driven product stewardship approach.
By becoming a member of APCO, businesses receive guidance on how to improve the sustainability of their packaging. They also agree to shared commitments and responsibilities to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging.
APCO has over 2,000 Australian business members from across the packaging supply chain, ranging from large multinational corporations to small local businesses.
Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets
In 2018 Australia established the ambitious 2025 National Packaging Targets. The Targets create a new sustainable pathway for the way we manage packaging in Australia.
The four Targets are:
- 100% of packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025
- 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted by 2025
- 50% of average recycled content included in packaging by 2025
- The phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025.
The National Packaging Targets apply to all packaging that is made, used and sold in Australia. APCO is charged with delivering the industry-led targets.
Good progress is being made against the Targets. Yet, more work is required to ensure they are delivered in full by 2025. Targets requiring attention by industry include:
- increasing the volume of plastic packaging being recycled
- increasing the amount of recycled content in plastic packaging.
To drive further industry action APCO has set a new recycled content target for plastic packaging (20%). APCO has also set material specific targets for recycled content in plastic packaging made from:
- polyethylene (PET) (30%)
- high-density polyethylene (HDPE) (20%)
- polypropylene (PP) (20%).
Governments and APCO are working together to actively track and review industry’s progress towards the Targets.
ANZPAC Plastics Pact
The Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Countries Plastics Pact (ANZPAC) is an APCO-led industry program that brings together 100 leading businesses, government and supply chain stakeholders to work collaboratively across the Oceania region to reduce and manage plastic packaging over the next three years. The Australian Government joined ANZPAC as a supporting member in September 2021. ANZPAC is the first Plastics Pact in the Oceania region, second regional Pact and the 11th Plastics Pact to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF) global Plastics Pact Network. The EMF Plastics Pact Network is a globally aligned response to plastic waste and pollution that enables knowledge sharing and co-ordinated action.
More information about ANZPAC is available at ANZPAC Plastics Pact.
Review of the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM)
The Australian Government has undertaken an independent review of the NEPM and Covenant.
The review commenced in December 2020 and a final report with recommendations was provided to the Government in September 2021. The review was informed by a comprehensive analysis of the Commonwealth, state and territory legislation that underpins and enforces the NEPM and Covenant, as well as data on packaging consumption and recovery rates in Australia.
A consultation period was held between 5 February – 12 March 2021, during which businesses, state, territory and local governments, industry peak bodies and associations, non-government organisations, and members of the public were surveyed and invited to provide written submissions on key issues and potential options for reform.
The Government welcomes the report and the opportunity to work with state and territory governments and industry on making the necessary improvements to the system to ensure all Australia’s packaging is being designed, manufactured, collected and recycled to meet the National Packaging Targets.
The Government is considering all recommendations and will provide a formal response to the review in 2022.
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