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“By 2025 or earlier, all Australian packaging in Australia will be reusable, combustible, or recyclable.2”
Josh Frydenburg, Minister for Environment
Australia’s Environment Ministers have committed to all packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, as part of the Toward 2025 initiative.
This global initiative, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, looks at the way resources, raw materials and packaging are currently being utilised. This initiative aims to make significant changes in current consumer use of packaging, which will impact manufacturers as well as other key stakeholders.
In Australia, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation has been tasked with rolling out the targets and actions that will support this aim. The United Kingdom and France have introduced similar aims.
The European Commission noted that increased scarcity of raw materials used to make various forms of packaging is leading to a real focus on recycling, and a larger use of recovered materials1. Significant pressure continues to be placed on sustainably sourced raw materials as consumers and brands become more conscious of the environmental impacts of the production of plastic, paper and board products.
Why is Australia making this commitment?
Following China’s ban on foreign waste imports in March of 2018, Australia’s local councils were struggling to address high amounts of recycled material.
An estimated 600,000 tonnes of waste was previously exported to China, and Australia does not currently have the capacity to handle this volume of recycled waste3.
A meeting of Australia’s environment minsters in April of 2018 recognised concerns with unrecyclable packaging, and noted a need to move to packaging products with an extendable end life in either reusing, recycling or composting in order to have a positive environmental impact.
The Waste Hierachy
The waste hierarchy is an internationally accepted set of priorities for the efficient use of resources.
Underpinning waste avoidance and resource recovery related legislation in many countries, this guide establishes the most favourable to least favourable actions related to materials.
While we know reducing or reusing resources is best for the environment, we strongly believe in championing recycling as the best option for single-use packaging.
1. European Commission, ‘Sustainable supply of raw materials’, Case Study 60, Business Innovation observatory, February 2017
2. Feguson, K 2018, ‘Federal Government pledges to make packaging reusable, recyclable, compostable by 2025,’ ABC News
3. Mackenzie, I, 2018 ‘The recycling crisis in Australia: easy solutions to a hard problem’, The Conversation <https://theconversation.com/the-recycling-crisis-in-australia-easy-solutions-to-a-hard-problem-95231>