The Australian Packaging Covenant
The Australian Packaging Covenant (the Covenant) is a national regulatory framework under the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM) that sets out how governments and businesses across Australia share the responsibility for managing the environmental impacts of packaging.
The Covenant embodies product stewardship and shared responsibility approaches that focus on seven principles:
What are the aims of the Covenant?
The Covenant aims to reduce the environmental impacts of Consumer Packaging by supporting two goals:
- Optimising resource recovery of Consumer Packaging through the supply chain by:
- adopting approaches that make changes in the way we design, use and buy packaging and packaged products so that packaging uses less resources and is more easily recycled, and
- enabling packaging materials to be returned to the economy thereby minimising waste associated with the generation and consumption of Consumer Packaging across the supply chain.
- Preventing the impacts of fugitive packaging on the environment by adopting approaches that support new innovations and find solutions to capture packaging materials or waste before it enters the environment, or support the adoption of new or alternative types of packaging.
Consumer Packaging is defined in the NEPM to mean all packaging products made of any material, or combination of materials, for the containment, protection, marketing or handling of consumer products. This includes distribution packaging. For clarity, Consumer Packaging includes primary, secondary and tertiary packaging, including plastic bags.
- Primary packaging is the container directly containing the product.
- Secondary packaging includes the materials used to contain single or multiple primary packed products.
- Tertiary packaging includes materials used to distribute packaged and unpackaged products, including pallets, wrapping stretch film, shippers, shrink film, strapping, and cartons.
The Covenant supports an industry-led component of a co-regulatory arrangement underpinned by the NEPM.
The Covenant is supported by a five-year Strategic Plan that is developed and implemented by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation Ltd. (APCO), in consultation with Commonwealth, state and territory governments. Members contribute Membership fees that support the administration of the Covenant, the provision of services to Members and projects.
What is the Covenant and how does it relate to APCO?
APCO is the entity in charge of managing and administering the Covenant.
The Covenant is agreed between APCO, representing industry participants in the packaging supply chain, and Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and endorsed by all environment ministers.
Which organisations are bound by the Covenant and how does it relate to APCO Brand Owner Members?
The Covenant applies to businesses in the supply chain that have a total annual turnover of $5 million or more, that meet the definition of Brand Owner as set out within the NEPM.
These businesses are required to choose between:
- Becoming a Signatory to the Covenant and contributing to the collective national efforts in managing packaging waste, or
- Meeting compliance obligations under the NEPM which are implemented by the laws and other arrangements of participating states and territories where a business sells or distributes its products.
When organisations become a Brand Owner Member of APCO and a Signatory to the Covenant, they agree to shared commitments and joint responsibilities to work collaboratively to achieve sustainable packaging outcomes.