Wednesday, 15 June 2022

The election of a new Federal Labor Government and increased Greens' influence in the Senate will inevitably bring changes to policy approaches on product stewardship, recycling, and the circular economy.


The extent of these changes remains to be seen. Both Labor and the Greens have indicated an intention to step up implementation of existing policies and processes, including the National Waste Policy Action Plan, the review of the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure (NEPM) 2011, and investment in recycling infrastructure, rather than a major change in direction.


Labor’s Waste and Recycling Plan focuses on key areas including recycled content, packaging product stewardship, and recycling while highlighting the link between plastic waste and ocean protection. The Greens have signalled a focus on mandatory national packaging targets and a national approach to single-use plastic bans.


Labor intends to task a proposed new Government agency, the Future Made in Australia Office, while strengthening the environmental sustainability provision in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, aiming to increasing the use of recycled content. Additionally, Labor has indicated it will “make greater progress in standardising high-quality kerbside collection, phasing out harmful single-use plastics, and harmonising state-based container deposit schemes”.

Given the active interest taken by the Greens in packaging product stewardship in the past few years, a stronger Greens’ presence in the Senate is likely to lead to further discussion about the merits of mandatory national packaging targets and a national approach to single-use plastic bans.


The Greens’ Creating a Circular Economy policy sets out a number of positions relevant to packaging including legislating a national approach to container deposit schemes, providing $1bn for a nationwide compostable processing scheme, investing $500 million over five years into infrastructure and programs to reboot recycling and supporting a Global Plastic Treaty.


APCO will be seeking to continue discussions on important work in progress with the new Government. These projects include the finalisation of a practical roadmap to implement the National Plastics Plan’s requirement to phase out business-to-consumer expanded polystyrene (EPS), the development of a PFAS in Fibre Based Packaging Action Plan, and the timely and effective implementation of the recommendations of the NEPM review.