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APCO ignites action plan for difficult plastic packaging

The ‘APCO Action Plan for Problematic and Unnecessary Single-Use Plastic Packaging’ has been designed by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) to support Australia’s packaging supply chain and phase out problematic single-use plastic packaging.

The plan sets out how Australia can eliminate the following nine priority materials:

1. Lightweight plastic shopping bags
2. Fragmentable plastics
3. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging for food and beverage service and retail fresh produce
4. EPS loose fill packaging
5. Moulded EPS packaging for white/brown goods and electronics
6. Rigid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) packaging
7. Rigid polystyrene (PS) packaging
8. Opaque polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles
9. Rigid plastic packaging with carbon black
The plan provides a practical framework to help businesses identify opportunities to eliminate, redesign, replace or innovate to introduce new solutions. It also provides a range of resources to help the supply chain take action at each step of the process.

APCO CEO, Brooke Donnelly highlighted that “Single-use plastics are an issue that is close to many people’s hearts given the devastating impact they have on marine environments and landfill.

To reach our 2025 Targets, we need all businesses to start phasing these materials out of their operations and this practical plan is here to help them do it. Importantly, it has been designed to align and amplify the groundswell of action already taking place on the single-use plastics issue by industry, government and the community.”
According to Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, “APCO’s Action Plan on single-use plastics is a practical resource to help drive the change we want to see through Australia’s packaging supply chain to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

“The Federal Government has endorsed these ambitious targets for recycling packaging in Australia, including to phase-out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025. We want Australians to be confident that our recyclable materials are not dumped in landfill or left to pollute our oceans and waterways”.

Best-practice case studies
The plan also contains a range of industry best-practice case studies and programs currently in market, including initiatives by Officeworks, Woolworths, Coles, ALDI and McDonald’s.

Officeworks was commended in the report for successfully phasing out all polystyrene packaging from its home branded furniture and shredders and working with the wider supply chain to share the knowledge.

Officeworks managing director Sarah Hunter explained that the company wants to contribute to a more circular economy, by designing out waste, preferencing renewable and recyclable materials, and keeping products in the economy for longer.

“We’ve made great progress in this area, but we know there is still more we can do. We have redesigned larger packaging formats to remove polystyrene in products such as furniture and shredders and we’re currently working with our technology suppliers to do the same.

“In the last financial year, we recycled 86 per cent of the waste from our stores and operations, reducing the amount sent to landfill by more than a quarter.

“Our commitment to become a zero-waste business and ensure all packaging is reusable or recyclable wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of our team members across buying, sourcing, supply chain, sustainability departments and our stores who have all played an important role”.

Planet Protector
One of the solutions outlined in the report is Planet Protector Packaging, an Australian business that is providing a sustainable alternative to polystyrene using waste wool from the meat and textile industries otherwise destined for landfill.

Planet Protector Packaging CEO, Joanne Howarth also explained that “We’re in a race to eliminate expanded polystyrene in food and pharmaceutical transport through our innovative Woolpack solutions. What we do in the next 10 years will affect our oceans for the next 10,000. It is up to all of us to make the change to phase problematic plastics from our everyday lives.”

Under the 2025 National Packaging Targets, APCO is working with industry, government and the community to phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging by 2025. This work is endorsed by government in the National Waste Policy and National Waste Policy Action Plan.