New report outlines challenges and opportunities for government procurement of recycled material

Subject: Recycled Content, Projects, 2025 Targets
16 November 2020

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has today published ‘Supporting government procurement of recycled materials’ a new report to help increase government procurement of recycled content – a critical component of Australia’s work to deliver the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

The new report sets out the practical challenges that procurement managers face at each step of the procurement process, and outlines a series of strategies to overcome them. Developed specifically for local governments, government agencies and businesses seeking to supply materials to governments, the publication draws on in-depth consultation with local government associations and state government agencies.

Practical roadblocks addressed include how procurement managers can access detailed and reliable information on products and materials, including technical product information, local availability, standards, lifecycle impacts and sustainability/recycled content certifications. The report then details the range of resources and tools available on market, including the new Australian Circular Economy Hub platform, which is set to launch in November 2020. 

The procurement supply chain is also examined closely, along with the unique challenges faced by procurement managers and the businesses supplying to them, and how interventions at the planning, sourcing and contract management phases could help overcome them. 

The vital importance of establishing a business case for recycled content is also addressed, with the report documenting how to clearly demonstrate the economic rationale to key decision makers. This includes the direct benefits of recycled content (e.g. material quality, costs and return on investment) as well as the broader positive impacts for local economies, including local and regional waste solutions and regional employment. 

Brooke Donnelly, CEO, APCO commented: “Government procurement of recycled content will play an important role in Australia’s ability to meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets. We developed this report to help Australia realise this potential. By providing procurement professionals and the businesses aspiring to supply to them with a clear outline of the challenges in the system, we hope this report will start breaking down some of the barriers and start building capability and skill where it’s most needed”. 

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, said: “When we do buy goods and services that contain or use recycled materials, we reduce the amount of waste resources sent to landfill, repurpose the valuable energy and materials used to make those resources and reinvest that value by converting our waste resources into new products. This is the circular economy in action.

“In the decade ahead, I want to see Australia become a recycling powerhouse, exporting our recycling know-how and innovations to the world, not our waste. Everyone – governments of all levels, industry and consumers – has a role to play in making sure that this happens in Australia. The Australian Government will soon release a revised Sustainable Procurement Guide and updated Commonwealth Procurement Rules so that every single one of our almost 100 agencies must consider buying recycled.”

‘Supporting government procurement of recycled materials’ is available to download here: Supporting Government Procurement of Recycled Content


About APCO (

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) is a not for profit organisation leading the development of a circular economy for packaging in Australia. APCO works with governments, businesses and other organisations from across Australia’s large and complex packaging value chain to develop the insights, resources and programs that are needed to build a sustainable national packaging ecosystem. In 2018, APCO was endorsed by government to lead the delivery of Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets and ensure all packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. To achieve this goal, APCO is working closely with government and industry to deliver a range of sustainable design, recycling, waste to landfill reduction and circular economy projects. Recognised as one of Australia’s leading product stewardship organisations with a strong national and global collaborative network, APCO is committed to reducing the environmental impact of packaging on Australian communities by moving towards a circular economy.

About the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

The 2025 Targets were launched by government and industry in 2018, providing a clear mandate to deliver a new sustainable pathway for packaging in Australia. The four targets, to be achieved by 2025, are:

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