Sustainability Pathways

Australian Packaging Covenant

Type of practice Recycle
Name of practice Australian Packaging Covenant
Name of main actor Industry, Local, State and Commonwealth Governments and Consumers
Type of actor(s) Public authority, Company
Location Australia
Stage of implementation Packaging
Year of implementation 1999
What was/is being done? The Covenant is a partnership between industry, local, State and Commonwealth governments and consumers to ensure optimal resource conservation and recovery of consumer packaging in households and away-from-home premises, such as workplace, industrial and public premises. It aims to improve the total environmental performance and life-cycle management of consumer packaging- with a specific focus on food packaging-by pursuing specific environmentally-focused performance goals. The Covenant's mission is to provide a system through which users of packaging materials and participants in the supply chain can voluntarily demonstrate leadership in: •sustainable packaging design by optimizing packaging for efficient resource use and reducing environmental impacts without compromising food products’ quality and safety; •recovery and recycling of used packaging materials resulting in reduced waste and litter; •engagement of all participants in the supply chain in the sustainable use of packaging materials - Product Stewardship is a demonstrated commitment of all signatories; •innovation in packaging materials by using sustainable materials and partnering with sustainable suppliers.
Outcomes and impacts A 24.6% increase in the overall recycling rate across Australia, from the 2003 baseline of 39.2% to 63.8% in 2012. A 37.1% reduction in tonnage to landfill, from 2.537m in 2003 to 1.596m tonnes in 2012, against an increased consumption of 5.6% in the same period (4.1m to 4.4m tonnes). Contributed funding of $27.6m in support of 109 projects, worth $93.3m. Expansion of recycling infrastructure with considerable investment in glass and paper projects. Educational litter campaigns conducted in all states, across city and regional centres. Development of away-from-home recycling services in shopping centres, fast food outlets, airports, sporting and entertainment venues and off-shore tourist resorts. Development of recycling collection services to small business and commercial and industrial sites (C&I), in heavily populated areas, as well as regional centres. Improvement in specific material targets from the 2003 baseline and against the 2010 targets across all packaging materials. Financial support for the National Litter Index for the past three years. Continued growth in signatory membership base to more than 780 signatories across a broad industry base - food and grocery, pharmaceutical, hardware, electronics and clothing. Contribution to research funding, as examples - recycled glass as road base additive; fine recycled glass powder used as silicon-based fertiliser. Development of educational tools to enhance the learning experience of signatories. Plastics (# 4-7) once considered non-recyclable are now able to be recycled. A preparedness to foster developments of new solutions. Increased collaboration across the packaging supply chain - with packaging manufacturers, raw material suppliers, recovery and recycling services, research and education entities – joining brand owners, retailers and wholesalers, government at all levels, industry associations and community groups - to foster increased product stewardship of packaging.