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Packaging targets a failure says Boomerang Alliance

Almost all of Australia’s key packaging waste and recycling targets are on the path to failure, Jeff Angel, director of the Boomerang Alliance of 56 group, said after the release of a major review by the industry-based Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO).

‘The report is a shocking indictment of the voluntary nature of the targets, which are to be met by 2025 and reinforces our call for mandatory targets. This is the only rational response to the revelations that recovery of plastic packaging will miss the 70 per cent goal by a large amount; and recycled content of plastic packaging is 3 per cent, way below the 20 per cent target,’’ said Angel.

Angel said that the bright spots on banning single-use plastic items and accelerating recovery of drink containers under Container Deposit Schemes are the direct result of legislation, not APC action. The report repeats more of the same mantra about voluntary action to develop more plans, encourage investment and collective action. He believes the government needs to step in to stop the waste, protect the environment and get the packaging industry on the path to quick results.

‘Under the current situation, we’ll get to 2024 and business will seek an extension of time to reach the targets. That would be unacceptable. The Packaging Covenant has missed too many goals and should not be given another chance. We’ll give them credit for admitting failure and being transparent but that must mean they join with us to craft an effective regulatory response now rather than wait till 2025. Last year we issued a Plan B, for this eventuality and it’s time to put it into action. We also note that other countries such as the UK will be imposing a tax on plastic packaging if it has less than 30 per cent recycled content,’’ said Angel.

APCO launched the Collective Impact report recently, which identified specific gaps that remain for each of the targets. The report provides a clear list of actions required from businesses and organisations across the packaging value chain on the road to achieving the 2025 targets. APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly acknowledged that more work needs to be done urgently if the targets are to be met.

“The core message of this report is clear – if we are going to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, we all need to do more and the time to act is now. We have seen fantastic progress so far towards the Targets, but we must accelerate our efforts if we are to be successful by 2025,” said Donnelly.

“The gaps identified in the report require significant attention and we need to see a wholesale collaborative effort from actors across the supply chain to address these. It’s absolutely critical that businesses across every industry sector engage with this report and discuss within their organisations how they will work to address these gaps.”

The report identifies the actions required within the three core areas of activity in sustainable packaging – packaging designed for circularity, improved collection and recycling systems, and expanded markets for used packaging.

“APCO’s role is to bring together key contributors across the value chain to collectively work towards these priority strategies. Achieving the 2025 Targets is a significant challenge for Australia that requires all the system stakeholders to be working together and at their best to be successful,” Donnelly said.

The report will be discussed in detail as part of APCO’s Collective Impact Summit, which brings together businesses and organisations from across the packaging value chain to discuss what needs to be done moving forward and how best to work collaboratively to achieve this.