Australian Packaging Consumption and Recovery report 2021-22 released

Monday, 29 April 2024

APCO has released the fifth iteration of its annual Consumption & Recovery Data Report. This comprehensive data report provides an analysis of packaging consumption and recovery in the Australia market in 2021-22, and measures Australia's progress towards the 2025 National Packaging Targets (2025 Targets). 

The Report has revealed modest progress towards the 2025 Targets. These results were consistent with the findings of the National Packaging Targets Review conducted in 2023.

Key findings from the Report include: 

  • 2021-22, Australia's total packaging placed on the market was estimated at 6.98 million tonnes. This included paper and paperboard (52.3%), plastic packaging (18.3%), glass packaging (16.4%), wood packaging (8.8%), and metal packaging (4.3%).   
  • The total post-consumer packaging recovery was estimated at 3.91 million tonnes (56%). This recovery was primarily of paper and paperboard (64.0%), followed by glass (18.4%), wood (7.1%), plastic (6.6%), and metal (3.9%).  
  • Post Consumer recycled content in packaging was 2.57 million tonnes (40% of total packaging). 
  • It was estimated that 84% of the total packaging (by tonnage) was classified as having good recycling potential. Over 90% of glass (100%), metal (100%) and paper and paperboard (93%) were classified as having good recycling potential, while only 42% of plastic packaging was classified as having good recycling potential.   

Australia's progress against the 2025 Targets includes: 

  • Target 1: 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging. 

Result: The proportion of recyclable packaging decreased from 86% to 84%.  

Note: This was caused by the change in the recycling potential score for flexible B2C plastic packaging. This decision was made to reflect an extraordinary industry event where collection and reprocessing facilities became unavailable despite the technical recyclability of this material. 

  • Target 2: 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted. 

Result: The plastic recycling rate increased from 18% to 20%. 

  • Target 3: 50% of average post-consumer recycled content included in packaging. 

Result: The average recycled content increased from 39% to 40%. 

  • Target 4: The phase-out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging. 

Result: This has been reduced by 33% from the 2017-18 baseline.  

While many Australian businesses have made fantastic contributions towards the 2025 Targets, it is clear the 2025 Targets will not be met within the timeframe. The key takeaway is that the task at hand for these voluntary targets is much bigger than any one company and the actions it can take within its own organisation. Serious, at-scale collaboration and cooperation across the packaging industry, government and waste and recycling sectors is needed to drive real and effective change.   

APCO will continue to work with industry and government to address the critical structural issues in the market, including building greater reprocessing capability and policy certainty. 

The Report, again, underscores the importance of strengthening regulation to align the packaging system and improve recovery outcomes. APCO and its Members strongly support regulatory reform. The announcement made by the Federal Government in late 2023 to act as regulator has been well-received by industry. 

The Report provides the data and insights needed to make informed decisions, by supporting strategic focus areas across the lifecycle of packaging – design, manufacturing, use, disposal and end-of-life. It also highlights the critical requirement for investment in infrastructure to provide the additional capacity and capability to collect, sort and reprocess consumer packaging. 

The Consumption and Recovery Report is part of a suite of resources APCO has developed to address material flow losses in the Australian packaging system, to uplift the value of recyclates in the market and track progress towards a circular economy. Updated Material Fact Sheets and an interactive material flow analysis webpage that visualises alternate system scenario flows have also been developed. 

APCO CEO, Chris Foley, commented: “While it has been clear for over twelve months that the 2025 Targets will not be met within the timeframe, it’s essential that we continue to conduct a regular pulse-check to understand the state of packaging in Australia and identify what needs to change in order to address the critical structural issues in the market. This report provides a critical picture of where we’re at and to inform decisions going forward.  

Clearly, ‘business as usual’ activity is not enough and it is time to chart a bolder course. To that end, APCO is currently developing a new strategy to 2030 that builds on the organisation’s strategic reset following the 2022 review of the Targets. To support this, APCO is running a series of nationwide member forums to gather feedback and input; it is critical that businesses have their say now to help guide the development of this strategy.” 

APCO places a high value on providing data and insights that are relevant, valid and timely. As such there will be a follow-up report launched later this year for FY22-23 to provide the most up-to-date data possible. For any feedback that should be considered or questions that need to be answered for the next report, please contact

  • Access the Consumption and Recovery Data Report here 
  • Access the Updated Material Factsheets here