Australian food and grocery manufacturers aim to collect and recycle nearly 190,000 tonnes of plastic packaging per annum by 2025 in a new industry-led scheme.
The program will initially focus on increasing the diversion of soft plastics such as bread, cereal and frozen vegetable bags, confectionery wrappers and toilet paper wrap from landfill. Later, it will be expanded to include other types of plastics that are currently difficult to collect or recycle.
Financed in part by the Federal Government’s National Product Stewardship Investment Fund (PSIF) along with the industry, the project, called the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS), will be administered by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).
The NPRS will coordinate and focus the efforts of food and grocery brands to significantly increase the recycling and reuse of plastic packaging.
“Over many years, brand owners have invested in packaging innovations that reduce food waste and have moved to using lighter-weight plastics that have a lower carbon footprint,” said AFGC CEO Tanya Barden.
“Continuing the focus on packaging sustainability, the NPRS will increase the recycling rates of identified plastics and reduce the amount of virgin plastic used in packaging, helping to meet Australia’s National Packaging Targets.”
The new program will build on existing soft-plastics recycling initiatives including the industry funded RedCycle program and the soft plastic kerbside collection trial run by Nestle, as well as projects and research by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation.
The National Packaging Targets include recycling or composting 70 per cent of plastic packaging and incorporating an average of 50 per cent recycled content across all packaging by 2025.
“We’re excited about developing a circular economy in collaboration with our members, who comprise nearly 80 percent of packaged food and grocery sales, as well as governments, retailers, plastics and packaging companies, and the resource recovery industry,” said Barden.
“We commend the Australian Government’s leadership on waste reduction and recycling matters, including their support for the NPRS.”