Packaging Sustainability Framework

The APCO Packaging Sustainability Framework (the Framework) is a consistent and transparent framework for assessing and tracking packaging sustainability. The Framework was developed in partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, and Dr Helen Lewis of Helen Lewis Research.


The APCO Annual Report, which APCO Brand Owners Members are required to complete by 31 March each year, is based on this Framework.  

The Seven Criteria of the Packaging Sustainability Framework

1.   Governance & Strategy

This criteria considers actions to integrate packaging sustainability into business strategies. This includes having documented commitments and targets that have been approved by management and ensuring that these are reflected in policies and procedures for marketing, product development, procurement and operations.

2.   Design & Procurement

This criteria considers actions taken to ensure that sustainability principles are considered in the design or procurement of both new and existing packaging. You should have a documented procedure to use the Sustainable Packaging Guidelines (SPGs), or an equivalent set of principles, to evaluate and improve packaging. You should also be tracking the number of products that have had their packaging designed or reviewed with reference to sustainability principles.

3.   Recycled Content

This criteria considers actions taken to increase the amount of recycled material in packaging, or to ensure that recycled material in packaging has been ‘optimised’ within current constraints. Here, ‘optimised’ means that the current levels of recycled materials used in packaging cannot be increased without compromising product safety or quality.

4.   Recoverability

This criteria considers actions taken to improve the recovery of packaging at end-of-life. These actions may have been taken as a result of a Sustainable Packaging Guidelines (SPGs) review, or in response to another business driver. You should be tracking the amount of packaging that can be recovered through an existing collection system that most of your customers in Australia can access, e.g. by putting it in their kerbside recycling bin or by taking it to a drop-off point.

5.   Disposal Labelling

This criteria considers the extent to which packaging has been labelled to help consumers determine what to do with packaging at end-of-life, e.g. put it in their recycling, compost or general waste bin. Relevant labels include recycling symbols and advice, such as the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL).

6.   On-site Waste

This criteria considers progress in increasing the amount of on-site solid waste being diverted from landfill. This is measured as the ‘diversion rate’, i.e. the percentage of solid waste that has been recovered for reuse, recycling, composting or energy recovery, as a percentage of the amount of solid waste generated.

7.   Problematic Materials

This criteria considers the extent to which organisations are actively phasing out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging. This includes preventing litter, the use of single-use plastics and the removal of other hazardous materials.



APCO Annual Report versions

There are three versions of the APCO Annual Report, to which a version of the Framework applies:


1.   SME Report

APCO Brand Owner Members with a total annual turnover less than $50 million will have the option to either complete an abridged SME APCO Annual Report (SME Report) or "opt in" to the full APCO Annual Report and Framework. The version of the APCO Annual Report and Framework they can “opt in” to will depend on their industry sector.

2.   Full Framework

The Full Framework applies to all APCO Brand Owner Members with a total annual turnover greater than $50 million, whose APCO Primary Industry Sector is anything but ‘packaging manufacturer/supplier’.


3.   Packaging Manufacturer/Supplier Framework

The Packaging Manufacturer/Supplier version of the Framework applies to those Members with a total annual turnover greater than $50 million, whose APCO Primary Industry Sector is ‘packaging manufacturer/supplier’ – that is, those businesses who manufacturer or sell packaging as their product. This is a slightly altered version of the Full Framework, which has been tailored specifically to their industry.