A new report has highlighted a compelling need to enhance packaging recovery and recycling rates across all material streams in Australia.
APCO, an independent public affairs and strategic communications consultancy, in partnership with Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF) has launched Packaging Materials Flow Analysis (MFA), a study report representing the current state of post-consumer packaging in Australia.
The MFA report revealed that in 2017/18 Australia has generated approximately 4.4 million tons of total packaging waste out of which, 68% is collected and 56% of the collection has been recovered by recycling efforts.
The packaging waste constituted 32% for plastics and 72% for paper streams highlighting the significant opportunity to improve waste management practices to achieve higher recovery rates.
APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said: “To achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, we need to first understand the journey materials take along the entire supply chain and establish a baseline of data to measure change and interventions. This report, APCO Packaging Material Flow Analysis 2018, is the first step in this process.”
MFA forms a critical first step in achieving the 2025 National Packaging Targets, through outlining the current journey of Australia’s packaging waste. The report identified significant data and infrastructure challenges in the system and models five potential solutions for the future.
Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS) research director and co-author of the report said: “There is great potential to step-up material recovery from the current overall recovery rate of 56% and at the same time increase demand for recycled materials to drive the transition to a circular economy for packaging.
“APCO, as the central product stewardship organisation, is well placed to support this coordinated transition that involves cooperation between consumers, designers, recyclers and packaging manufactures.”
Furthermore, MFA focused significant data and infrastructure gaps that need to be fixed before the 2025 and the findings can be used to inform additional packaging and recycling research to develop a complete picture of the current system.
Donnelly added: “We can’t implement effective and meaningful changes to the system if we don’t first have a complete and accurate picture. A collaborative approach will be critical to building this.
“The challenge ahead of us requires a complete transformation of the current system. Over the next 12 months APCO will be leading an ambitious agenda of projects to build on the findings of the MFA. We look forward to working closely with all stakeholders as we transition to a circular model for packaging in Australia.”
APCO said that during the foundation phase of the 2019-2020 targets, it has implemented MFA along with many other initiatives, to form the groundwork stage that focuses on research, engaging stakeholders and setting baselines and frameworks.
The company also said that in 2019, it will co-ordinate 22 new projects building on the findings of the MFA and include further detailed research into packaging consumption and recycling to establish baselines for the 2025 targets.