Business and government team up to tackle waste

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The government has joined business leaders in pledging to reduce packaging waste and improve recycling by launching the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

Minister for the Environment Melissa Price joined leaders from packaging, retail, logistics, manufacturing, recycling and waste-management businesses. They all pledged to manage packaging waste better.

Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets launched on Tuesday at an event in Melbourne convened by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO). These targets build on commitments from Commonwealth, state and territory environment ministers and the president of the Australian Local Government Association in April. They set a sustainable path for Australia’s recyclable waste.

2025 National Packaging Targets

  1. 100 per cent of all Australia’s packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 or earlier.
  2. 70 per cent of Australia’s plastic packaging will be recycled or composted by 2025.
  3. 30 per cent average recycled content will be included across all packaging by 2025.
  4. Problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging will be phased out through design, innovation or introduction of alternatives.

Minister Price congratulated APCO, Woolworths and the initial working group of key business leaders. These include Coca-Cola Amatil, Goodman Fielder, Nestlé, Pact Group, Simplot and Unilever.

Unilever ANZ CEO Clive Stiff said, “Unilever welcomes [the]event as a critical step towards greater collective action on increasing the nation’s recycling capability. As a consumer-goods company, we’re acutely aware of the consequences of a linear take-make-dispose model, and we want to change it.”

To support the 2025 targets, members of the initial working group will also welcome industry representatives and environmental groups. These include ALDI, Coles, Metcash and Woolworths.

General Manager Quality and Sustainability at Woolworths Alex Holt highlighted the importance of this collaboration: “We’re really pleased to see such a wide range of industry players come together in support of such a worthy goal. Moving towards a circular economy won’t be easy. But we have the right mix of organisations on board to help make it a reality.”

Australasian Recycling Label

At the event in Melbourne, Minister Price also officially launched the Australasian Recycling Label (right). This will be an important tool for achieving the 2025 National Packaging Targets, she said. Planet Ark, PREP Design and APCO developed the new labelling system to help consumers better understand how to recycle packaging.

“The Australasian Recycling Label provides people with easy-to-understand recycling information when they need it most, in those few seconds when they are deciding what bin the package goes in,” Minister Price said. “The label removes confusion and reduces waste.”

Woolworths: it’s win-win

Woolworths Group is one of the retailers to have thrown its weight behind the new pledge.

Woolworths Head of Sustainability Adrian Cullen said: “We’re currently introducing recycled-content packaging on our Woolworths-branded 600ml water and looking at opportunities across other product ranges as well.

“In the future, we look forward to being able to source this type of recycled-content packaging from local providers as we see the Australian recycling industry grow.

“This will not only be a win for local jobs and industry, it’ll also be a more sustainable option for our customers.”