Packaging report details collaborative vision

Our Packaging Future, the new strategic framework outlining how Australia will deliver the 2025 National Packaging Targets was unveiled yesterday during an industry webinar.

The report was launched by assistant minister for Waste Reduction and Environment Management, Trevor Evans, and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and featured discussion from Evans, Dr Helen Lewis and APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly.

Our Packaging Future combines data and insights from more than 200 authors and contributors, to identify the current critical challenges contributing to this gap. It then maps the strategies required to move away from our current take, make and waste approach to managing packaging.

The strategies address issues of packaging design, improved collection and recycling systems and expanded markets for used packaging, and provides a systemic, whole of environment approach to building Australia’s sustainable packaging future.

Key recommendations and approaches addressed in the plan include:

  • A change to the 2025 National Packaging Target for recycled content levels in packaging. The Target for the average recycled content in all packaging will increase from 30 percent to 50 percent
  • The launch of a National Consumer Education Campaign for sustainable packaging in 2020
  • APCO to convene a CDS National Working Group as a collaborative forum aiming to facilitate consistency and alignment of future closed-loop schemes
  • APCO to explore and facilitate waste collection partnerships in regional and remote areas including potential collaboration with other product stewardship schemes where kerbside collection is not feasible
  • Voluntary code of practice for shopping bags with key stakeholders
  • New reuse models for both consumer and B2B packaging
  • For compostable packaging, develop a national strategy with industry and government partners.
  • Explore extending the Australasian Recycling Label to include B2B packaging and recycled content.
  • Develop a traceability and verification program for recycled content in packaging and products

According to Evans, “Governments around Australia are relying on APCO and its members to bring about a more sustainable approach to packaging. This report shows that about half of all packaging in Australia is not currently being recovered, and that is the gap we need to bridge to achieve the National Packaging Targets by 2025”.

Brooke Donnelly, CEO, APCO added, “Our planet has finite resources to meet our ever-increasing consumption. Business as usual is simply not going to sustain our communities into the future. We will not accept a future defined by waste stockpiles, inefficient waste recovery economies, self-interest and fragmented regulation and policy approaches.

Clear vision

She said that the vision for this report is clear. It will build a packaging value chain that collaborates to keep packaging materials out of landfill and maximise the circular value of the materials, energy and labour within the local economy.

“Thank you to everyone who took part in the process, it has taken over two years, however we now have a clear vision for a whole of system approach to delivering the 2025 Targets,” she said.

Leaders from across the packaging value chain, including major brands, retailers and business associations, the waste and recycling industry, and the environmental community have responded positively to the report.

“By mapping the challenges faced by all impacted waste streams, the collective impact framework of the report focuses industry and government on the strategies that will drive the critical growth and sustainable end markets that are necessary to drive the system forward and achieve the waste reduction and recycling outcomes the Australian public expects,” SUEZ Australia & New Zealand chief customer officer, Justin Frank said.

Significant milestone

“As the first integrated and holistic perspective of Australia’s packaging ecosystem, ‘Our Packaging Future’ is a significant milestone for packaging sustainability here in Australia. At Kmart Group, we are committed to reducing the environmental impacts of Kmart, Target and Catch’s own brand products and packaging, delivered through our Better Together sustainable development program,” Kmart Group head of Energy and Environment Chris Foley added.

“The Our Packaging Future project is firmly part of diverse network of global organisations, this network, providing an evidence-based foundation for businesses to map, measure and forecast the reduction and, ultimately the elimination, of packaging leakage across their value chains.

The recommendations and strategies outlined in the report will provide Australian businesses with a strong foundation to deliver effective action on eliminating pollution and building a circular approach across our economy,” Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, CEO Andrew Petersen said.

“The report highlights the very real need for national consumer education particularly the use of standardised on-pack recycling information via the Australasian Recycling Label, itself a highly productive collaboration between APCO, Planet Ark and PREP Design,” Planet Ark Environmental Foundation CEO, Paul Klymenko concluded.

 

Relief arrives with Jobkeeper package

Vital businesses that support and serve the WARR industry will feel some relief following the release of a $132 billion Jobkeeper package by the federal government late yesterday.

Designed to assist workers who have been stood down, the package offers a lifeline to employers whose business have experienced a 30% revenue decline since March 1. By 8am this morning more than 60,000 operators had registered for the subsidy through the Australia Taxation office.

Any worker who was laid off since March 1 can talk to their employers to re-employ them so that they can receive the $1,500 fortnightly payment while the employer will be reimbursed from May.

Even employers whose business has been shut down on government orders will receive money to pay employees who cannot do any meaningful work or attend their workplace.

Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA) executive director Tony Khoury told Inside Waste that it welcomed the government’s Job Keeper $1,500 payment per worker per fortnight.

“Any waste & recycling business that incurs a significant financial hit of 30% revenue reduction caused by COVID-19 will be eligible. This announcement will ensure that a business will continue to directly pay its workers and therefore maintain a connection to those workers.

“In so doing, waste management operators will hang onto their valued, experienced staff,” he said.A statement by Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, and AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said that they had joined forces to urge that every effort is made to ensure Australian manufacturing businesses remain safe and can continue to supply the needs of Australian households, businesses, community organisations and health providers.

Limiting business closures

“It is crucial that businesses in vital areas keep operating through these difficult times and that people remain employed as much as possible.

“This includes businesses involved in manufacturing such as food processing, packaging, pharmaceuticals, chemicals (including sanitising and cleaning products), and health industry supplies. It also includes industries necessary for these activities to continue – those in their supply chains and service partners,” the statement said.

However, they acknowledged that many manufacturing businesses cannot be turned off and on with the flick of a switch. Closures can take time; they are costly and often hazardous.

“Restarting many manufacturing processes is similarly time-consuming, costly, and dangerous. These extra costs and risks need to be weighed in any assessment of a shut down. If they can operate safely they should remain open,” they said.

Retaining employment

They also noted that many workers are employed in industries that supply basic needs. Many more are employed in businesses that can continue to operate safely and without increasing risks of community transmission of COVID-19.

History suggests unemployment rises much faster than it falls. The costs of unemployment – both human and economic – last for many years beyond the passing of the economic downturn. Many people, particularly those who are older and less skilled, will never be re-employed.

Both the AWU and Ai Group welcome the measures the Government has introduced to improve the provision of mental health services in Australia. Avoiding unnecessary business closures will help avoid further escalation of the adverse mental health outcomes associated with unemployment.

Waste industry strengthens as nation under pressure

Inside Waste has continued to strengthen over the past year with pageviews and readership showing sustained growth. This places us in a sound position to support the industry as it negotiates an adapted environment.

In response to the profound changes caused by COVID-19, the national waste industry has stepped up its communications and advocacy to government to ensure that recent commitments made at COAG stay on track and association members remain informed during a time of disruption.

Leading associations such as Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), National Waste & Recycling Industry Council of NSW (NWRIC) and Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WRC) have made specific calls to state governments and authorities to make cash injections and debt guarantees, as well as waive levies and taxes that are applicable to the WARR industry.

Focused communications

From this week, WMRR will send a custom weekly newsletter to members to keep them abreast of the specific impacts of the virus on their businesses.

“Now more than ever, we must remain connected, work together, and share knowledge that will both sustain and support our industry and its people,” WMRR CEO, Gayle Sloan said.
Meanwhile, WCRA has called on Sydney Water to guarantee that they will reimburse licensed waste transporters for any bad debts that are incurred.

WCRA executive director Tony Khoury said that the association will continue to keep the industry informed about COVID-19 related matters as they continue to develop.

“WCRA will also continue to lobby for waste services to be treated as essential,” he advised.

Inside Waste, along with other titles within the Prime Creative Media stable, remains committed to bringing the strongest news to our core readers as they navigate new community and business terrains. Our newsletters are continuing as usual and daily updates to the website and social media. If there are any specific articles or news you would like us to cover in insidewaste.com.au please let me know at claire.moffat@primecreativemedia.com.au.

WMRR delivers COVID-19 clinical and related waste guidance  

The peak body for the management of clinical and related waste in Australia, the National Biohazard Waste Industry (BWI) committee has developed guidance to help hospitals, aged, and health care providers manage COVID-19 affected materials as well as those managing waste, both within and outside these facilities.

BWI is a division of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR).

In a statement to members and the media, BWI said they were seeking to offer general guidance to stakeholders. BWI recommends that organisations contact and work with their waste management providers if they have any specific questions or require further information.

Under AS 3816:2018 Management of Clinical and Related Wastes, clinical waste is defined as any waste that has the potential to cause injury, infection, or offence, arising but not limited to medical, dental, podiatry, health care services and so forth.

Current situation

“At this time, we are not aware of any evidence that direct, unprotected human contact during the handling of healthcare waste has resulted in the transmission of COVID‐19, nor is COVID‐19 regarded as a Category A infectious disease (World Health Organisation, 2020),” the statement said.

According to BWI, it also understands that the WHO and some Australian health officials have, in fact, declared that clinical waste from infected patients should be treated as normal clinical waste with no additional measures. It noted that this, however, may not be a uniform stance.

“In light of the dynamic and evolving nature of the COVID‐19 situation, along with the growing body of knowledge including the significant range of unknown characteristics, such as survival on surfaces, BWI said it was prudent to suggest the adoption of additional measures.

“As governments evaluate the transmissibility and severity of COVID‐19, these additional measures aim to offer a degree of precaution and assistance to staff who will be responsible for the management of higher than normal, and potentially more hazardous clinical waste volumes generated during this time,” the statement said.

Additional measures  

BWI said that it also hoped that additional measures would afford a greater level of protection to healthcare facility staff and waste handlers, both within and external to the facility, responsible for the management of clinical waste.

It is the recommendation of BWI that these proposed measures should be adopted alongside current PPE and other relevant practices. At a minimum, individuals handling clinical waste should wear appropriate PPE (boots, aprons, long‐sleeved gowns, thick gloves, masks, and goggles) and perform proper hand hygiene after removal of wastes.

BWI would like to reiterate the importance of all facilities continuing to work and engage with their waste management providers on these recommended additional measures:

  • Implementation of double bagging of waste from patients confirmed as infected with COVID‐19. This can most easily be achieved by first lining all clinical waste Mobile Garbage Bins (MGBs) with clinical waste bin liners. By placing infected waste into a primary clinical waste bag and tying this bag up prior to disposal in the lined MGB – the bag lining the MGB must also be tied up ‐ a significant increase in protection can be achieved
  • Bins or containers that have been used in isolation rooms or in close proximity to patients confirmed as infected with COVID‐19, the exterior surface should be wiped clean in accordance with WHO guidelines prior to collection
  • Discreet notification and identification of any bins carrying infected waste in a discreet manner, as clearly agreed upon with your waste management provider

BWI stated that there could be an understandable reluctance to overtly label bins containing COVID‐19 waste. Therefore, this could be as simple as the addition of a simple mark or sticker as clearly agreed and documented between the facility and your waste management provider.

Additional waste types and best practice

For soiled linen, towels and incontinence aids BWI stated that it is critical to conduct hand hygiene when there is suspected or direct contact with faeces (if hands are soiled, soap and water are preferred to alcohol‐based hand rub).

In all healthcare settings, including those with suspected or confirmed COVID‐19 cases, faeces must be treated as a biohazard and handled in accordance with the current Australian Standards.

Nappies and incontinence aids, if used, should be disposed of, as they would in all situations, as infectious waste. The WHO provides guidance on the minimum requirements for soiled linen and towels that these are to be disinfected for reprocessing. Single‐use materials should be treated as infectious waste.

Implementation of measures

BWI said that these needed to be implemented as soon as practicably possible. It said that the WHO guiding document Guidance laid out in this statement was adapted from the March 3, 2020 WHO guiding document, Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID‐19.

It also advised that the contents of the technical brief from the WHO is based on the information currently available for SARS‐CoV‐2 and the persistence of other viruses in the coronavirus family. It reflected input and advice from microbiologists and virologists, infection control experts, and those with practical knowledge about water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and infection prevention and control (IPC) in emergencies and disease outbreaks.

Federal Government releases $100billion to save business

Minutes after the Reserve Bank lowered the cash rate by 0.25%, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg this afternoon, said they were accessing up to $100billion to “get Australian’s across a bridge” during the COVID-19 crisis. The details of the spend are sketchy however, both leaders and then the Reserve Bank Governor, Philip Lowe then outlined the financial mechanics to sustain the economy.

This followed an initial stimulus package announced by the Federal government last week. The state governments have also released a series of stimulus packages in the last few days aimed at putting a financial floor under businesses to enable them to survive the impact of Covid-19. The Federal government released a significant package for business and organisations late last week and another is expected shortly.

These are the details of the first package:

Incentive for purchases more than $150K

  • Instant asset write-off for any machinery purchase made up to $150k
  • Asset can be new or used
  • No limit on number of assets
  • Only available until June 30, 2020

Incentive for purchases less than $150K

  • Accelerated depreciation deduction incentive
  • 50% immediate deduction followed by normal depreciation rules applied to the balance
  • Asset must be new
  • Also available for assets <$150k but purchased after June 30, 2020
  • Available until June 30, 2021

NSW to waive payroll tax

The NSW government has allocated $450million to waive payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months. The should deliver immediate relief as these businesses would not have to pay the tax for the rest of this financial year.

The government has also bought forward the next round of payroll tax cuts effectively raising the threshold limit to $1million for the next financial year.

“The Government stands ready to do whatever it takes to keep people safe and ensure our economy withstands this storm,” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.

The Treasurer added that he will drawing on the state infrastructure as part of his plan to stimulate the economy, with more than $750 million will be spent on capital works and maintenance of public assets.

WA grants for business

In WA small to medium enterprises (SME’s)  with a payroll of between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500. It’s anticipated that this will bolster 7,400 businesses in and cost the Government $114 million.

Changes to the payroll tax exemption threshold are also being brought forward, in an effort to support 11,000 businesses.

The threshold was previously lifted from $850,000 to $950,000, with an increase to $1 million scheduled for January 2021 but this will now happen earlier on July 1, 2020.

SME’s which pay less than $7.5 million in taxable wages each year can apply to defer their payroll tax payment to July 21, 2020.

The ACT government is prioritising support for small business owners, contractors and “gig” economy workers in the first tranche of a multi-stage stimulus package to help the territory weather the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said smaller infrastructure projects would also be fast-tracked in a bid to keep the economy moving amid the rapidly escalating global emergency.

Victorian business hotline

The Andrews Labor Government today launched a hotline for businesses dealing with the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses across the state can now access information on dealing with COVID-19 by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

Operators calling the hotline will be able to get information about support services, including those available through Business Victoria, which offers mentoring to help operators develop business continuity and recovery plans.

The hotline will provide the latest information on the response to COVID-19 and how this affects businesses, including how to access financial support available through the national stimulus package.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is hurting Victorian businesses and an important way that we can help is by giving them access to the information they need to make key decisions. This dedicated hotline will help businesses of all sizes get the facts and connect them with support services so they can best weather this storm,” Andrews said.

Letter from Prime Creative Media CEO

As Australia’s largest B2B publisher we have been looking at how we can best support our many industries through the changing COVID-19 situation.

We are committed to keeping our industries connected and supporting our clients and readers through this challenging time.

We recognise that meeting in person will be limited in the months ahead. Major conferences and events have been postponed for the next six months, including some of our own. Many companies are discouraging face-to-face meetings, and organising for team members to work from home.

With the potential for companies and individuals to become isolated we recognise communication within the industry has never been more important. Fortunately, through our media brands we are in a position to facilitate the necessary lines of communication that must be kept open between staff, suppliers, and clients.

We are in a strong position to support our industries through our media platforms: magazines, e-newsletters and websites. To that end, using print and digital platforms to communicate with the market has never been more important.

Prime Creative Media is committed to continuing our frequent communications. Our regular newsletters, web sites, and printed magazines will continue to be produced on schedule, with our entire team prepared to work remotely as needed. With so many other businesses moving to remote workplaces, we are now offering complimentary home address delivery of our publications to ensure continuity of service to our existing subscribers. Additionally we will offer three-month complimentary subscriptions to anyone else in the industry who would like a subscription to stay informed.

The economic challenges we face with COVID-19 are significant, but temporary. At Prime Creative Media we are taking a long-term view to our business, marketing, and investments, and it has been encouraging to hear this week from many clients who share our mindset.

We look forward to supporting our industries through our communication platforms in the coming months, so that our economy can push through this challenging time.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly to discuss your situation and how we can help.

Warm regards,

John Murphy
CEO
Prime Creative Media

john.murphy@primecreative.com.au

Waste 2020 conference cancelled

The annual Waste 2020 Conference which was scheduled for 5-7 May in Coffs Harbour has been cancelled  with Impact Environment conference convenor Greg Freeman advising the industry yesterday.

“We have been monitoring and evaluating the situation with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) over the past few weeks to ensure we were taking proper steps to protect the health and wellbeing of all stakeholders,” Freeman said

On the afternoon of 13th March Australia’s chief medical officer has told premiers, chief ministers and the Prime Minister that mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled amid fears about the spread of coronavirus.

“As such, and in light of all the information and advice given to date, we have unfortunately had to make the difficult decision to cancel the upcoming Waste 2020 Conference which was scheduled for 5-7 May in Coffs Harbour.

“This decision is one that was not taken lightly, and we understand that there will be much disappointment within the waste industry as many of you look forward to this conference each year.

Freeman explained that the decision was also impacted after a significant number of attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors notified the organisers that they were unable to take part in the event due to stringent travel restrictions imposed, making it not viable to run at a reduced capacity.

“We will make contact with all registered delegates, presenters, sponsors and exhibitors to discuss the next steps over the coming days,” he said.

Freeman advised that questions or concerns regarding the conference can be emailed to either wasteconference@impactenviro.com.au or connie@impactenviro.com.au and the team would respond as soon as possible.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and our sympathies are with those affected by the virus,” he said.