Solving Australia’s waste crisis – how Australia’s retail industry can be part of the solution.

BY Australian Retailers Association
28 June 2018

In April 2018, Australia’s Environment Ministers announced a historic target to make all packaging in Australia 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) is the agency charged by government to make this ambitious target a reality. Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO, explains some of the implications the new target will have for Australia’s retail businesses – including a new audit of retail businesses currently taking place.

The retail sector is one of Australia’s largest and most successful economic drivers, valued at over $310 billion and employing more than 1.2 million people. Its contributions to local and global commerce and trade are significant.

However, as one of the biggest suppliers, producers and lovers of packaging, the sector has a significant role to play in finding sustainable solutions.

Reaching the landmark goal set by the Environment Ministers will require a complete transformation of the way our society thinks about packaging. As a nation we will need to start recognising it as a valuable resource and not just waste that is destined for landfill. Therefore, this month we are conducting a Brand Audit to identify liable businesses that are unaware of or not meeting their obligations under the National Environmental Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM). The NEPM outlines your basic obligations as a business for reducing the harmful impacts of packaging on Australian communities. It applies to any business with an annual turnover of $5 million or more that is either in the supply chain of consumer packaging, or a retailer that is a manufacturer, wholesaler or importer, or offers its branded products to consumers.

The Audit will cover a wide range of sectors and industries, including pharmaceuticals, packaging manufacturers and food and beverage – with a key focus on the retail industry.

It is a complicated process and if you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

When you sign the Australian Packaging Covenant your business makes a public declaration to work collaboratively to achieve common goals. By signing the Covenant, your business becomes a Member of APCO. You join a group of committed organisations, including Brand Owners, packaging manufactures, and waste management and recycling organisations, to connect, collaborate and drive industry-led change.

You receive support to meet your regulatory obligations – including compliance with the NEPM - and agree to measure, track and constantly improve your sustainable packaging performance. APCO will support you throughout the entire process, providing the framework and resources to increase packaging sustainability within your business and along the entire supply chain - from design to distribution, retail and recovery.

But looking beyond meeting your own compliance obligations, by joining APCO your business will be at the forefront of this transformation.

It is fundamental that APCO’s work is delivered in a collaborative partnership with the retail industry and the Government to increase packaging sustainability across the entire supply chain. The retail sector has a fantastic opportunity to be a catalyst for change that will benefit the Australian economy, the environment and cement our position as leaders in progressive sustainable packaging alternatives.

Enquire about APCO membership today to be part of the solution.

If you have received an APCO Brand Audit notification this month and have more questions, please visit their website for more information www.packagingcovenant.org.au.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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