Australia's 2025 National Packaging Targets

Introduction

The 2025 National Packaging Targets (the 2025 Targets) are supported by Australian industry and government to deliver a new and sustainable approach to packaging. They apply to all packaging that is made, used and sold in Australia. APCO is the organisation charged by government to facilitate the delivery of the 2025 Targets.


The 2025 Targets are:

  • 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.


In March 2020, APCO also released a series of material-specific sub-targets relating to the uptake of recycled content in packaging. Learn more about the recycled content sub-targets here.


First established in 2018, the 2025 Targets require a complete and systemic change to the way Australia creates, collects and recovers product packaging, and are an important step on Australia’s journey towards a circular economy for 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 supported by the Federal and all Australian State and Territory Governments. and were included in the 2019 National Waste Policy Action Plan and the 2021 National Plastics Plan. Several states and territories have passed or are developing legislation that will ban some of the problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging items identified by APCO for phase-out, including EPS food and beverage service items and fragmentable plastics.  



Our Packaging Future – Australia’s Roadmap to 2025


Published in March 2020, Our Packaging Future is the roadmap detailing how Australia’s 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.


Click here to 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. The latest data report, titled Australian packaging consumption and recycling data 2018–19’ was published in January 2021 and is available to download here.



The 2025 Monitoring Program – how Australia measures progress towards the 2025 Targets


The 2025 Monitoring Program is designed to provide insight and a structured framework to regularly measure progress towards the 2025 Targets. It also provides the ability for key stakeholders to identify when progress within the system is not occurring at a pace significant enough to drive the desired outcomes and therefore achievement of the milestones.


Click here to read the 2025 Monitoring Program document.



Understanding the 2025 Targets in more detail

100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging


The first step to achieving a circular economy for packaging is to ensure each item of packaging is able to be reused, recycled or composted. 


Current progress towards this Target is strong, with 89% of packaging in Australia able to be reused, recycled and/or composted. APCO is currently undertaking detailed analysis of the 11% of packaging identified as currently not meeting this Target, to identify opportunities for elimination, reduction or redesign.


Key resources to take action on this Target:

  • The Sustainable Packaging Guidelines (SPGs): The SPGs are a comprehensive resource used to assist in the sustainable design and manufacture of packaging in Australia. The SPGs are designed to assist Australian organisations to integrate the ten Sustainable Packaging Principles into their operations. The first principle ‘Design for recovery’, supports manufacturers to design packaging with the highest potential environmental value for future use.
  • The Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP): PREP, available exclusively to APCO Members, can be used to assess the recyclability of packaging through kerbside collection in Australia and New Zealand. Find out more about PREP here.
  • Quickstart Guides: APCO has developed a series of Quickstart Guides to support the design of packaging for recyclability. Click here to view all Quickstart Guides.


70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted


Plastic packaging has some of the lowest recovery rates of any material. This Target seeks to significantly improve the volume of plastic packaging that is successfully recycled or composted for future use. 


Key resources to take action on this Target

APCO has developed a number of key programs and initiatives to address this Target and improve the recovery rates of plastic packaging in Australia. 

  • The ANZPAC Plastics Pact (ANZPAC) is a collaborative solution that brings together key players behind a shared vision of a circular economy for plastic, where plastic never becomes waste or pollution. ANZPAC is focused on implementing solutions tailored to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands region.
  • The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) Program is an on-pack labelling scheme that is helping consumers to recycle correctly and supporting brand owners to design packaging that is recyclable at end-of-life. While the ARL covers packaging of all material types, the complex nature of plastics recycling (particularly soft plastics) is significantly mitigated by the provision of clear instructions on pack.



50% of average recycled content included in packaging


Recycling isn’t truly complete until packaging is successfully recovered and used again as recycled content at its highest potential value for as long as possible. Australia is making strong progress towards this Target, with 2018/19 data showing a 38% average of recycled content in packaging (greater than our original recycled content Target of 30%). 


Key resources to take action on this Target

  • Supporting Government Procurement of Recycled Materials: In November 2020, APCO released a report designed to support government procurement of recycled materials – a critical step in increasing demand in Australia. 
  • APCO is currently developing a series of resources to support this work including guidelines detailing use of recycled content for different material types.



The phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging


Phasing out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging is essential to shift our economy and community away from single-use disposable plastic packaging to more durable reusable and recyclable packaging. By tackling these problematic items, we will also reduce packaging consumption, litter and waste, improve the economics of recycling, increase employment, lift recycling rates and help to boost recycled content in packaging.


A range of plastic items have been identified as priority items for phase-out. While some of these items are may generally be considered to be packaging, items such as straws and stirrers, cutlery, plates, cups and bowls are frequently combined with packaging and therefore cannot be excluded from the discussion or approach. 


Key resources to take action on this Target

  • APCO Action Plan for Problematic and Unnecessary Single-Use Plastic Packaging: APCO has developed a comprehensive action plan to support Australia’s packaging supply chain as they work to address problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through innovative, sustainable solutions. The plan sets out how Australia can eliminate nine priority materials and provides a practical framework to help businesses identify opportunities to eliminate, redesign, replace or innovate to introduce new solutions. 
  • APCO works closely with a range of industry sectors to support them to identify sector specific challenges and develop sectoral workshops, tools, programs and resources to overcome them. Outcomes have included the food services industry guidelines, the wine industry Sustainable Packaging Guidelines, and new programs to establish recovery programs for plant industry packaging and oil bottle containers. Please contact the APCO team today to find out how APCO could support your industry further. 



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.  







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 (SPGs) 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 
  • 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 and others in your supply chain to purchase recycled content items and join the APCO Recycled Content Pledge Program 
  • Use APCO’s National Consumer Education Campaign resources and messaging to ensure your organisation has a consistent and accurate approach to sustainable packaging communications. 


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 your local 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.