APCO WELCOMES $60M BOOST TO RECYCLING MODERNISATION FUND
22 March 2022
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), ALDI, Coles, Woolworths, The Arnott’s Group and Unilever welcome the announcement from the Federal Government of $60m in additional funding to boost the Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) and support and accelerate the uptake of recycled content in plastic packaging and products. The new investment takes the RMF to $250m, building on the $190m announced last year, which is driving a $1 billion transformation of the waste and recycling sector.
Increasing the average amount of recycled content in packaging is a core element of the 2025 National Packaging Targets (with a target of 50% average recycled content) and, more broadly, establishing a circular economy for sustainable packaging in Australia. The funding will also drive action towards achieving the 2025 Target for 70% of plastic packaging to be recycled or composted.
Plastic faces particular challenges, with an average of 95% of plastic packaging currently consisting of virgin material. The new government funding will support APCO Members and the entire packaging supply chain to develop new solutions to boost uptake of recycled plastic, including expanding infrastructure to process more recovered plastic into usable material for new products and packaging.
One of the initiatives APCO is preparing to launch that will play an important role in increasing demand for recycled content is the Recycled Materials Pledge. It aims to drive greater uptake of recycled content in packaging by Members and signal demand for recycled packaging materials to help drive investment in reprocessing.
Modelled on similar programs in Europe, the Pledge Program is for APCO Members to publicly pledge the volumes of specific materials that they will transition from virgin materials to recycled materials by 2025. APCO Members will have the opportunity to select the relevant packaging materials, make detailed commitments to the recycled material market, and pledge their dedication to achieve these specific 2025 National Packaging recycled material targets.
Brooke Donnelly, CEO of APCO, said: “It is crucial that recovered plastic is treated as a resource and seen as a critical way to ‘close the loop’. No materials are truly recycled until they are used again so it is vital that we expand our end markets for recovered plastic to ensure it goes back into the economy. This is the final step in a transition to a true circular economy.
“Innovative solutions to help businesses to increase the amount of recycled plastic being used in new packaging are essential. This funding will be key to supporting industry on this journey – to a future where plastic is no longer waste.”
Daniel Baker, Director Corporate Responsibility, ALDI Australia, said: “ALDI is focused on reducing our impact on the environment across our business and supply chain in relation to waste, recycling, packaging and energy and carbon emissions. Our plastics and packaging commitments guide our actions to reduce at least a quarter of all own-brand product plastic packaging by 2025, as well as increase the use of recycled materials across our range. Recognising the importance of developing a circular economy for plastics, we strive to reach 30% recycled content in our plastic packaging by 2025. This is in addition to our commitment as an APCO member to achieve 50% recycled content across all of our packaging materials.
“We’re committed to working in partnership with industry stakeholders, government and our business partners to find sustainable solutions to create a circular economy for plastics and are encouraged by this government investment that will lead to increased uptake of recycled materials in product packaging across the Australian retail industry.”
Simon Lowden, Chief Transformation Officer, Arnott’s Group, said: “The Arnott’s Group remain committed to achieving the 2025 National Packaging Targets and advancing an ambitious agenda that brings us closer to a circular economy for packaging. As a company we’ve committed to ensuring that our packaging has at least 50% average recycled content by 2025, so welcome the Government’s efforts in this space. We’re proud to be a Member of the ANZPAC Plastics Pact and will continue to work with our peers and industry partners to identify new sustainable solutions and innovative practices.”
Thinus Keevé, Chief Sustainability, Property and Export Officer, Coles, said: “As part of our ambition to become Australia’s most sustainable supermarket, we have aligned to Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets, including an average of 50% recycled content used across all Coles Own Brand and Coles Own Liquor Brand packaging. This is not something we can achieve alone and it takes action across each part of the packaging value chain to see its realisation. We understand our customers want us to reduce packaging and to make it easier for them to recycle.
“We also know that packaging, including plastic packaging, plays a key role in protecting products during transport, extending product life, keeping food safe and reducing food waste. Initiatives that drive the use of recycled plastic material in Australia will help close the loop on plastic packaging and support the transition to a circular economy.”
Brooke Sprott, Head of Sustainable Business & Communications – ANZ, Unilever, said: “At Unilever we’re working hard to reduce our use of virgin plastic, increase our use of post-consumer plastic, and ramp up recyclability of our packaging to meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets. Each year, we use 1,200 tonnes of recycled plastic in our home, beauty, and personal care bottles such as Dove, OMO, TRESemmé, Surf, and Toni & Guy. We’re looking for solutions to incorporate recycled plastic into our packaging such as Streets ice cream wrappers and Continental soup sachets. However, there’s currently a gap in the availability of traceable, food-grade recycled plastic in Australia. The Government’s announcement will help close this gap by accelerating Australia’s transition towards a circular economy, increasing capacity for hard-to-recycle materials like soft plastics, which can be collected and processed into a traceable stream of food-grade recycled plastic, and then re-used into packaging for our brands and many others.”
Adrian Cullen, Head of Circular Packaging Solutions, Woolworths 360, said: “We’re focused on growing greener across our entire range and our first preference will always be to remove plastic from packaging when we can. Where plastic can’t be taken out of packaging altogether, we’re committed to reducing its environmental footprint by increasing our use of recycled plastic.
“We’ve pledged to use an average of 60 per cent recycled content in our own brand packaging by the end of 2025, and we’re also working to support our suppliers’ progress towards APCO’s National Packaging Targets to help cut virgin plastic going into our customers’ shopping baskets. Large scale investments in Australia’s recycling capability, such as this additional funding from the Federal Government, are vital in our collective pursuit of a better tomorrow.”
In addition, APCO is the lead organisation in the ANZPAC Plastics Pact, a collaborative solution that brings together key players behind a shared vision of a circular economy for plastic across Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. This funding will also help to support ANZPAC Members to continue to develop innovative approaches to solving the plastic waste issue.
The new funding comes on the heels of a $50m investment into CSIRO’s Ending Plastic Waste Mission, which will involve industry, government and CSIRO working to develop cutting-edge science and innovation to change the way Australia makes, uses, recycles and disposes of plastics.
NOTES TO EDITORS
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ABOUT AUSTRALIAN PACKAGING COVENANT ORGANISATION
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) is the agency charged by government to make all packaging 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.
For more information about APCO visit: www.apco.org.au.