China Recycling Ban: APCO releases Market Impact Assessment Report

Subject: Recycling
4th April 2018

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has today released the Market Impact Assessment Report, a new study defining the impact of China’s National Sword policy.


Findings from the report reveal that the volume of Australian export of scrap paper and plastics has remained largely stable over the past 12 months, however their value has dropped significantly due to global oversupply.


Mixed paper scrap once valued at $124 per tonne (EXW) has dropped approximately 100% and is now close to worthless. Scrap mixed plastic has fallen 76%, from $325 per tonne to $75 per tonne and cardboard is now valued at $125 per tonne, falling 40% from $210 per tonne.


Brooke Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of APCO commented:


“What essentially lies at the heart of this issue is China’s decision to revise the contamination threshold for scrap paper and plastics. We need to develop the right domestic infrastructure to lower the contamination levels in our waste and start building viable end market solutions here in Australia to ensure a smaller, cleaner packaging waste stream”.


APCO is already developing a range of solutions to improve sustainable packaging design, reduce contamination and improve recycling rates.


Most recently, APCO launched the first nation-wide labelling program to help Australians better understand how to recycle packaging correctly and assist organisations in designing for recycling and working towards lowering contamination levels. Launched in conjunction with Planet Ark and PREP Design, the program has already been adopted by Australia Post, Blackmores, Nestlé, Officeworks, Unilever and Woolworths among others.


APCO has accelerated the delivery of the PREP design tool, an online evaluation portal that determines if a packaging format is recyclable or not in the current kerbside collection service. For the first time in Australia, organisations can develop their packaging to be recyclable where possible, driving waste avoidance outcomes at the design stage.


APCO is also currently reviewing its Sustainable Packaging Guidelines (SPGs) to help businesses reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and develop a standardised approach to key issues such as the use of recycled content in packaging.


“Transitioning to a circular economy is essential if we are to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging and this requires collaboration from brands, governments, the recycling and packaging industry and consumers alike. APCO is in a unique position to facilitate this collaboration and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to help Australia realise a circular economy” said Brooke.


The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation is a co-regulatory, not-for-profit organisation that partners with government and industry to reduce the harmful impact of packaging on the environment. To obtain a copy of the Market Impact Assessment please visit the APCO website.