APCO launches Action Plan for Problematic and Unnecessary Single-Use Plastic Packaging

Subject: Single Use Problematic Unnecessary

11 December 2020

New resource will help Australian businesses eliminate approximately 50,700 tonnes of problem plastics every year.

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has today published ‘APCO Action Plan for Problematic and Unnecessary Single-Use Plastic Packaging’ a practical new resource designed to help Australia’s packaging supply chain phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through innovative, sustainable solutions.

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.

The plan sets out how Australia can eliminate the following nine priority materials:

1.      Lightweight plastic shopping bags

2.      Fragmentable plastics

3.      Expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging for food and beverage service and retail fresh produce 

4.      EPS loose fill packaging 

5.      Moulded EPS packaging for white/brown goods and electronics

6.      Rigid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging

7.      Rigid polystyrene (PS) packaging

8.      Opaque polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles

9.      Rigid plastic packaging with carbon black

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, 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 Morrison Government has endorsed these ambitious targets for recycling packaging in Australia, including to phase-out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025. We want Australians to be confident that our recyclable materials are not dumped in landfill or left to pollute our oceans and waterways”.

The plan provides a practical 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 programs currently in market, including initiatives by Officeworks, Woolworths, Coles, ALDI, McDonald’s, plus many more.

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 we want to contribute to a more circular economy, by designing out waste, preferencing renewable and recyclable materials, and keeping products in the economy for longer.

“We’ve made great progress in this area, but we know there is still more we can do. 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.

“Our commitment to become a zero-waste business and ensure all packaging is reusable or recyclable wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of our team members across buying, sourcing, supply chain, sustainability departments and our stores who have all played an important role”.

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.

Joanne Howarth, CEO, Planet Protector Packaging commented: "We're in a race to eliminate expanded polystyrene in food and pharmaceutical transport through our innovative Woolpack solutions. What we do in the next 10 years will affect our oceans for the next 10,000. It is up to all of us to make the change to phase problematic plastics from our everyday lives."

Brooke Donnelly, CEO, APCO added: “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. Importantly, it has been designed to align and amplify the groundswell of action already taking place on the single-use plastics issue by industry, government and the community.”

Under the 2025 National Packaging Targets, APCO is working with industry, government and the community to phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging by 2025. This work is endorsed by government in the National Waste Policy and National Waste Policy Action Plan.

‘APCO Action Plan for Problematic and Unnecessary Single-Use Plastic Packaging’ is available to download here https://apco.org.au/resources.


About APCO (www apco org.au)

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.