The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has published
an action plan designed to help Australia’s packaging supply chain phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging
The not-for-profit organisation leading the development of a circular economy for packaging released its APCO Action Plan for Problematic and Unnecessary Single-Use Plastic Packaging.
Approximately 50,700 tonnes of single-use plastic packaging enter the market every year and include some of the most challenging to recycle and environmentally harmful packaging formats.
Priority materials for elimination are:
- Lightweight plastic shopping bags
- Fragmentable plastics
- Expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging for food and beverage service and retail fresh produce
- EPS loose fill packaging
- Moulded EPS packaging for white/brown goods and electronics
- Rigid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging
- Rigid polystyrene (PS) packaging
- Opaque polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles
- Rigid plastic packaging with carbon black
The federal assistant waste reduction minister Trevor Evans said: “APCO’s Action Plan on single-use plastics is a practical resource to help drive the change we want to see through Australia’s packaging supply chain to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
“The government has endorsed these ambitious targets for recycling packaging in Australia, including to phase-out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025.”
The plan provides a framework to help businesses identify opportunities to eliminate, redesign, replace or innovate to introduce new solutions.
It also provides a range of resources to help the supply chain take action at each step of the process.
Also contained are a range of industry best practice case studies and programmes currently in market, including initiatives by Officeworks, Woolworths, Coles, ALDI and McDonald’s.
Officeworks was commended in the report for successfully phasing out all polystyrene packaging from its home branded furniture and shredders and working with the wider supply chain to share the knowledge.
Officeworks Managing Director Sarah Hunter said the company wanted to contribute to a more circular economy, by designing out waste, preferencing renewable and recyclable materials, and keeping products in the economy for longer.
Hunter said: “We have redesigned larger packaging formats to remove polystyrene in products such as furniture and shredders and we’re currently working with our technology suppliers to do the same.
“In the last financial year, we recycled 86 per cent of the waste from our stores and operations, reducing the amount sent to landfill by more than a quarter.”
Another innovative solution outlined in the report is Planet Protector Packaging, an Australian business that is providing a sustainable alternative to polystyrene using waste wool from the meat and textile industries otherwise destined for landfill.
APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said: “Single-use plastics are an issue that is close to many people’s hearts given the devastating impact they have on marine environments and landfill.
“To reach our 2025 Targets, we need all businesses to start phasing these materials out of their operations and this practical plan is here to help them do it.”
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