A list of more than 60 companies have signed the new ANZPAC plastic reduction agreement, which sets a 2025 deadline for the use of entirely recyclable or reusable plastic in supply chains.
The ANZPAC plastic reduction agreement is hoped to be the catalyst for a dramatic reduction in the amount of single-use plastics being used in packaging, as well as spurring innovations in terms of new recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging throughout distribution chains by 2025.
Some of the major signatories of the agreement include supermarket giants like Coles and Woolworths, Nestle, Coca-Cola, as well as the Australian Beverages Council, Australian Food and Grocery Council, and Planet Ark.
The agreement outlines four key areas that the 60 companies that have signed the new ANZPAC plastic reduction agreement must aim to achieve by 2025, which includes:
- The elimination of unnecessary packaging
- Ensuring that all plastics used are either reusable, recyclable or compostable
- Increasing the amount of plastic that is collected to 25 per cent
- Increasing the prominence of recycled plastics in the packaging industry to 25 per cent
It’s understood that the agreement has been in negotiations for more than three-years, and has reached a crescendo amid environmental pressures to tackle unnecessary waste and increase our recycling capabilities.
The Australian recycling industry has, in recent years, been forced to adapt to massive changes in the market as the result of China stopping all imports of recyclable waste back in 2018.
It is the tenth pact targeting the proliferation of single-use or unrecyclable plastics around the globe, with the UK, South Africa, Canada and the European Union signing similar agreements to phase out needless single-use plastics and encourage plastic recycling.
Brooke Donnelly of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has told the ABC that more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic waste make their way into landfill or the natural environment each year, and the agreement is a milestone in tackling the problem.
“What we’re really trying to address here is a systemic problem that says the plastics system is actually broken.
“Our take, make a dispose approach means too much plastic waste is actually ending up in landfills.”
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation has previously released figures stating that between 2018-19, more than a million tonnes of plastic was produced and sold in Australia, but a mere 18 per cent made its way to a recycling facility.
“Essentially that means that 82 per cent of that 1 million tonnes went to landfill or the environment,” the APCO’s Brooke Donnelly said.
60 Companies Sign New ANZPAC Plastic Reduction Agreement
The forecast looked even worse, with the APCO estimating that if no policy were introduced or agreement found with major plastic polluters, the amount of plastics in the marketplace would double by 2040, with plastics making their way into the ocean rising by three-fold by the same date.
Donnelly says that in light of statistics and forecasts like these, “we really need a radical intervention.”
“For example, we will manage the collection of materials and bring them back and manage the end of life, so they’re being recycled or reused or composted,” Donnelly says.
Researcher at the Monash University’s Sustainable Development Institute, Jenny Downes has said that the agreement is a significant step for the Asia-Pacific region.
“What I’m hoping for is that this will also be a way of Australia and New Zealand being able to support the Pacific region, which has different but just as challenging issues with plastic.”
“A lot of this has come from the realisation of the massive marine plastic problem we have, and that a lot of this is lightweight, single-use packaging from consumer products,” Downes said.
“The issue of plastic is much bigger than that, but often that is what we see and what we think of when we hear plastic… we do have an issue with plastic packaging but sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture.”
“We need people to say we’re going to secure all of this plastic and turn it into new products… without that, there’s no value in collecting it,” she said.