With the support of nations across the world, Australia is making moves toward bettering our packaging landscape and eradicating single-use plastics in their entirety- pursuing more robust recycling practices to better achieve economic circularity. 

Our Goals For 2025

ONE: 100% of packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable

TWO: 70% of plastic packaging recycled or composted

THREE: 50% average recycled content across all packaging

FOUR: Phase-Out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging

Essentially, Australia will reduce packaging consumption, litter, and waste, particularly where plastic is concerned.

While eradicating problematic plastic from our country is priority one, the substitution of one material for another is not necessarily productive or sustainable. In order to reap the benefits of a plastic-free Australia, pursuing circularity is crucial. This means maximising the circular value of the existing materials, energy and labour within the local economy. 

Often when discussing packaging pitfalls, we fixate on plastic pollution. It is important, however, that we shift our focus to contemplate the entire life-cycle of packaging materials, as opposed to simply how they are disposed of. From sourcing and manufacturing to recyclability and decomposition- assessing the broader landscape allows for a more comprehensive understanding of a product’s sustainability and lessens the likelihood of adopting counterproductive practices/ products. 

Making sure a product’s packaging is completely essential is a fantastic first step however necessity is not to be mistaken for ineffective- in order to be environmentally beneficial, packaging must be effective. 

If the packaging is not fit for purpose and specifically selected for the product it’s protecting, chances are- it’s not sustainable (no matter what it’s made of). 

For example, bagasse is an up and coming plastic alternative, made from sugar cane pulp. Renewable & compostable, bagasse is quickly popping up in cafes and supermarkets across the country. It sounds fantastic and when fit for purpose, it absolutely is, however, bagasse quickly absorbs and decomposes with moisture meaning a reduced shelf life for many products. 

Food waste currently poses one of the greatest environmental and economical threats facing the world today, with around ⅓ of all food produced lost or wasted. If a product’s packaging is flimsy, offers low protection, or lessens its shelf life- it is ineffective and in turn, not sustainable. 

So, what’s the answer? 

The complex nature of this issue does not excuse complacency and with a clear plan & collaborative approach, there’s no reason Australia’s packaging goals cannot be met. 

STEP ONE: Redesigning packaging for circularity 

STEP TWO: Improving of collection and recycling systems

STEP THREE: Expand markets for used packaging

By facilitating a systemic and collaborative approach for the whole packaging value chain, all stakeholders will be involved and working together to set up infrastructure, conduct research, and introduce better designs. Ultimately, innovation will shift Australia away from our ‘take, make & waste’ approach.

Credit: APCO

For more information on the way in which the packaging landscape will shift, read through APCO’s framework- Our Packaging Future

Did anything in this blog surprise you? What are your thoughts on Australia’s packaging goals? As always, we’d love to hear from you! 

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