Australia's 2025 National Packaging Targets

The 2025 National Packaging Targets will deliver a new and sustainable approach to packaging in Australia. The 2025 Targets were established in 2018 with the support of Australian industry and government and are recognised in the Federal Government’s 2019 National Waste Policy Action Plan. APCO is the organisation charged by government to facilitate the delivery of the 2025 Targets.


The 2025 Targets provide a framework for collective, national action on waste management, recycling and resource recovery for our product packaging. They include:

  • 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging.
  • 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted.
  • 50% of average recycled content included in packaging (revised from 30% in 2020).
  • The phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging.


The 2025 Targets apply to all packaging that is made, used and sold in Australia and require a complete and systemic change to the way we create, collect and recover our product packaging. They were developed following extensive industry and government consultation, and are in line with the ambitious sustainable packaging initiatives being delivered globally. The 2025 Targets are also an important step on Australia’s journey towards a circular economy for packaging. 


Understanding the challenge – and opportunities  

Packaging has number of important functions in our modern lifestyle. It plays a significant role in reducing food waste, managing hazardous goods and protecting life-saving medicine. Plastic, in particular, serves its purpose producing lower life-cycle impacts, albeit at the expenses of the more obvious and problematic effect of litter. However, packaging is primarily made from finite resources. So, despite all the great qualities of these products, the way we manage them at the end-of-life has poor environmental outcomes on land and in our oceans - which must be remedied.


Our natural environment isn’t the only casualty of poor packaging management and recovery. Building a new and sustainable system in Australia will bring powerful opportunities for community impact, job creation and economic growth. 


Data collection and analysis plays a critical role in understanding the challenges of Australia’s resource recovery industry and developing effective solutions. 


APCO’s 2019 ‘Australian Packaging Consumption & Resource Recovery Data’ report maps in granular detail the complete Australian packaging ecosystem, highlighting the performance of key areas within the system. Of the 5.5 million tonnes of packaging material placed on the market annually, 88% is currently recyclable, yet just 49% is recovered for use in future applications. The remainder typically ends up as landfill, or litter on land and in our oceans. 



Packaging Losses Through the Packaging Recovery System



 To understand and address these challenges, APCO has developed a coordinated, whole-of-supply chain approach to promote the avoidance, reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling of packaging materials. This work will take place across three phases, with activity currently being delivered in the Foundation phase. To learn more about how Australia will deliver the 2025 Targets, read Our Packaging Future


How Australia is tracking towards 2025

Each year APCO collects benchmark data to assess Australia’s progress towards the 2025 Targets. Data published in November 2019 demonstrates that the Target for 100% of packaging to be recyclable, reusable or compostable and the Target to phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging are both on track for successful delivery by 2025.


Australia has also performed beyond expectations against the initial Recycled Content Target, for 30% average recycled content included across packaging. In 2019 analysis showed that the average recycled content across all packaging was at 35% and identified a significant disparity in the performance of the various material streams across paper, metal, glass and plastic. Plastic is at a particularly low level of only 2% recycled content.


After completion of this data analysis, key stakeholders from government and industry participated in a consultation process to review and identify a new recycled content target. The National Packaging Target has been updated to reflect that new ambition; 50% average recycled content will be included across all packaging by 2025.


The remaining target for 70% of Australia’s plastic packaging to be recycled or composted by 2025 will require a significant investment in domestic recycling infrastructure. Read more about our approach to addressing the plastics issue on the ANZPAC Plastics Pact page.



National Packaging Tarets 17-18 Results


Our Packaging Future – the national roadmap to 2025

Published in March 2020, Our Packaging Future is the roadmap detailing how Australia’s entire packaging value chain can work together to successfully deliver the 2025 Targets. 


Our Packaging Future combines data and insights from more than 200 authors and contributors, to identify the current critical challenges in Australia’s resource recovery landscape. 


It then maps the strategies required to move away from our current ‘take, make and waste’ approach to managing packaging.



Transforming the Packaging Value Chain




The strategies address issues of packaging design, improved collection and recycling systems and expanded markets for used packaging, and provides a systemic, whole of environment approach to building Australia’s sustainable packaging future. 



The Collective Impact Framework Outcomes



Each year these strategies are turned into action with our Priority Projects program, a schedule of 20+ significant projects ranging from data analysis and system trials, through to critical resource development and community education initiatives. The annual program is developed in consultation with, and is overseen by, APCO’s Working Groups – a community of more than 160 participants, representing the entire packaging supply chain.


To understand more about APCO’s FY21 Priority Projects program visit the projects page, and to learn more about the teams delivering this work, visit the Working Groups page.


Who is responsible for delivering the 2025 Targets?

There is no silver bullet for solving Australia’s waste and recycling challenges. Everyone has a role to play and collaboration will be critical for bringing the 2025 Targets to life. APCO’s approach to delivering change – utilising the Collective Impact framework – is bringing the whole packaging ecosystem, including brand owners, industry, government, community groups and academia, along on the journey.  


Packaging Value Chain


Take action

Some practical steps stakeholders can take to deliver the 2025 Targets include:

Businesses: 
  • Stay informed: Register to the APCO Unpacked newsletter
  • Download Our Packaging Future: learn what role your organisation must play in delivering the 2025 Targets.
  • Join the APCO Membership community: APCO Members have access to resources and tools to help them at every step of improving their packaging sustainability and meeting the 2025 Targets.  
  • Implement the Sustainable Packaging Guidelines and the 10 key principles into your packaging operations  
  • Join the Australasian Recycling Label Program
  • Take part in the ANZPAC Plastics Pact and take tangible action on plastic
  • Join an APCO Working Group or support a FY21 Priority Project 
  • Get involved in an APCO sectoral project or ask your industry association how it is supporting the 2025 Targets 
  • Mobilise upper management and staff: every business has a role to play in achieving the 2025 Targets, from training and education to involvement in pilot projects 
  • Ask your suppliers what action they are taking to deliver the 2025 Targets 
  • Encourage government to purchase recycled content items
For consumers:
  • Stay informed: Register to the APCO Unpacked newsletter
  • Look for the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) on products and follow the instructions to recycle correctly. Then support those brands with your purchasing power at the cash register
  • Return soft plastics to a Woolworths or Coles REDcycle bin
  • Ask your favourite brands what they are doing to deliver the 2025 Targets and improve their packaging sustainability? 
  • Support brands using recycled content, and providing packaging that can be recycled or reused
  • Check out the Planet Ark website for more information on improving your sustainable lifestyle.  
For government: 
  • Stay informed: Register to the APCO Unpacked newsletter
  • Download Our Packaging Future and share information about the 2025 National Packaging Targets with your wider organisation, including waste educators, project managers and communications teams  
  • Support the Australasian Recycling Label Program: use this resource kit to share information, or find out more about booking a briefing on upcoming program activity 
  • Find out more about how to use recycled content in your infrastructure projects 
  • Support and recognise businesses in your area that are signatories to the Australian Packaging Covenant and are taking action on the 2025 Targets. Encourage other businesses to join APCO to get started.
  • Provides grants to organisations that use, produce or recycle packaging to support them to reduce packaging waste.
  • Support one of APCO’s FY21 Priority Projects.