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Sustainable Packaging

APCO names projects to help achieve 2025 National Packaging Targets

Posted on August 11th, 2020 in Industry News

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has announced the projects that will be prioritised during the 2020-21 financial year to help the Australian packaging industry meet agreed sustainability targets within the next five years.

APCO is an independent not-for-profit company that works with the packaging industry and national, state and territory governments across Australia to support the collective effort to establishing a circular economy for packaging.

The latest projects were announced in June and cover several areas including reuse, recycling, composting and phasing out single-use plastic packaging.

2025 targets

Australia’s National Packaging Targets were established in 2018. The targets by 2025 are:

  1. 100% of packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
  2. 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted
  3. 50% of average recycled content included in packaging
  4. Phasing out problematic single-use plastics packaging

To help the industry achieve these targets on time, APCO selects projects to prioritise each year across the whole packaging supply chain.

2020–21 priority projects

This year’s projects cover six categories:

  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Recycled content
  • Single-use packaging
  • Composting
  • General projects

Read brief outlines of each of these projects below.


  • Reuse pilot – guiding collaborative pilot projects to establish reuse practices across targeted supply chains.
  • Reuse roadmap – creating an evidence-based business case and strategy for packaging reuse models that identifies priority opportunities.


  • Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) program – continuation of the program launched in 2018.
  • Business to business (B2B) packaging – promoting the reduction, reuse and recycling of packaging in the B2B stream and assessing the introduction of ARL programs.
  • Design guidelines – development of four new design guidelines to cover soft plastics, rigid plastics, fibre-based packaging and problematic small items, following existing Quickstart guidelines.
  • National Consumer Education for Sustainable Packaging – developing a consistent approach to reduction, reuse and recycling.
  • Packaging recyclability research – incorporating greater recyclability into packaging design.
  • Remote and regional partnership – investigating opportunities for drop-off collection systems and other product stewardship models in remote and regional areas.
  • Strategies for recycling soft plastics – conducting research and trials into increased recycling of soft plastic packaging and reducing waste.

Recycled content

  • Member pledges – public pledges from APCO members to increase or maintain volumes of recycled materials in packaging.
  • Recycled content design guidelines – material-specific guidelines for supply chains on packaging design incorporating recycled content.
  • Recycled content labelling – establishing a labelling program to clearly show recycled content in packaging.
  • Recycled content traceability – supporting industry and government confidence that levels of recycled content in packaging are within targets, both those produced in Australia and imported.
  • Specifications for recycled materials – establishing standard requirements for the use of recycled materials in plastic packaging and other packaging to help manufacturers meet quality and colour requirements.
  • Supporting government procurement – developing resources to support state and local governments in the procurement of packaging and other products made from recycled content.

Single-use, unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging phase-out

  • Approaches for non-recyclable packaging – developing action plans or pilots to overcome barriers for the 12% of packaging that is not currently recyclable.
  • Strategies for problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging – creating an action plan for the phase-out of the four highest priority types of plastic packaging, namely:
    • EPS packaging fill
    • light weight bags
    • ox-degradable plastics
    • oxo-degradable expanded polystyrene (EPS) food and beverage service containers

Also researching other materials under consideration for phase-out, including PVC, PS, multi-material laminate plastics and additives such as titanium dioxide and carbon black.


  • Compostable packaging positioning paper – working with the Australian Bioplastics Association (ABA) and the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) to develop a joint positioning paper on compostable packaging that addresses confusions over best practices and other matters.
  • National compostable packaging strategy – developing a long-term strategy with ABA and AORA to integrate composable packaging into current systems.


  • Annual material flow analysis – annual benchmarking of progress towards National Packaging Targets.
  • Circular Economy Hub – support for the collation of packaging data for CE Hub Marketplace.
  • Circular Plastics Recycling Initiative (CPRi) – collaboration with major universities to drive innovation for plastics in the circular economy.
  • Sector approaches – priority packaging projects tailored to individual sectors.

Industry on target

The Australian packaging industry is on track to meet these targets by 2025, although disruptions from coronavirus are likely to have an impact, particularly with the increased use of single-use plastics. Some targets have already been reached and revised since they were introduced in 2018, with the country achieving the earlier target of 30% average recycled content in packaging in 2019.

APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said: “Over the next year, the APCO working groups will work collaboratively to address these issues and develop a range of strategies, materials and resources to ensure Australia’s supply chain is fully equipped to deliver the 2025 National Packaging Targets.”

Packaging companies and retailers can find out more about how they can play their part by visiting the APCO website.

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