Recycled Content Traceability Standard

Recycling is not truly complete until packaging is successfully recovered and used again as recycled content at its highest potential value for as long as possible. Australia is making strong progress towards the 2025 National Packaging Target for an average of 50% recycled content included in all packaging, with 2019/20 data showing a 39% average of post-consumer sourced recycled content in packaging.

 

To continue to support and drive progress for the implementation of recycled materials in packaging, APCO is developing the Recycled Content Traceability Standard (the Standard) that will provide industry the confidence they need in tracing recycled content through their local and international supply chains. This transparent and verified use of recycled content then provides confidence in what businesses are purchasing and provides an evidence base for the use of on-pack labels and claims.

 

Early development


Working Groups 2019 – 2020

  • Since 2019 APCO has collaborated with key stakeholders across the supply chain to understand the barriers and requirements for increasing the use of recycled content in packaging.
  • Research into current labelling and certification standards for recycled content. The research found there was no consistent certification program or label in Australia, in addition to identifying opportunities for growth and learnings for best practice.
  • Investigated and showcased examples of Members already successfully incorporating recycled content in packaging: E.g., The ICONICUnileverSimplot, and Natures Organics.  
  • Consumer research and testing on recycled content messaging and claims, along with supporting messaging for a broader education.

 

Recycled Content Traceability Standard

  • Development of the draft of the Standard for recycled materials in packaging.
  • 10 Criteria were developed from industry best-practice chain of custody models and ISO standards.

 

Pilot testing


In 2021, two pilot audits were identified – one for glass and the other for plastic. The objective of the audits was to apply the Standard to supply chain scenarios to verify recycled content and to identify opportunities to improve the useability of the Standard.

 

Stakeholder engagement


2022 Reference Group & material-specific consultations


The Recycled Content Program is currently in the final development phase with APCO working with industry to ensure it is accessible, robust, and supportive. This includes the established Reference Group providing diverse industry feedback into the Program. Furthermore, APCO are undertaking material-specific consultations to ensure the RCTS and supporting resources consider all five main material types, (plastic, glass, paper, aluminium, and steel) and their unique supply chains.

 

Release


The Standard and certification scheme is set to launch in mid-2022. This will include user resources to support Members:

  • Understand their use of recycled content, assess their current supply chain and labelling practices, and identify where improvements can be made,
  • Undertake an internal audit to review their current traceability procedures, capture traceability documentation, or establish processes internally for gathering data on recycled content.

Continuous maintenance


Following release of the RCTS, APCO will continue to engage with brand owners, suppliers, and packaging manufacturers to develop user-friendly resources and keep the Standard updated based on recommendations for changes or requests for interpretations.

 

Members are encouraged to:

  • Signal your interest in the Standard and certification scheme by signing up to the Expression of Interest list to keep up to date with launch details and upcoming webinars.
  • Review and utilise existing resources
    • Recycled Content Guide
    • Recycled Content Targets 
    • Supporting Government Procurement of Recycled Materials 
  • Provide feedback directly to APCO about your experiences, learnings, and recommendations for the Standard and certification scheme – get in touch using arl@apco.org.au