Sustainable packaging examined in TRMC’s Power of Print

The printing and packaging sectors had the opportunity to hear from the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, known as APCO, in this week’s Power of Print webinar, facilitated by The Real Media Collective.

APCO sustainability partnership manager Jayne Paramor used her webinar to discuss “Building a Circular Economy for Packaging in Australia” and explained the 2025 packaging targets which are currently being worked towards in Australia:

  • 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging
  • 70 per cent of plastic packaging being recycled or composted
  • 50 per cent of average recycled content included in packaging (revised from 30 per cent in 2020)
  • The phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging.

Printers have the power to influence

With many printers already having diversified into packaging, or at least considering the move, the discussion provided useful insights into packaging innovations they could discuss with their clients.

Paramor said printers and packaging manufacturers are in a position to influence the types of packaging that are used. This includes helping ensure the minimum amount of packaging is used and that, importantly, what is used ticks the boxes in terms of recyclability and reusability.

She said APCO is there to help, guide and support businesses in this journey with information available on the APCO website.

“We work across all packaging formats – paper, fibre, glass, metals and plastic. We are also moving into the compostable space and we are also seeing a lot of innovation around the re-use model,” Paramor said.

“We look at design and the materials that are coming into the system and we want to make sure they are as recyclable and reusable as possible. We also look at the systems that manage that packaging this includes waste collection and resource recovery.

“We also look at education so consumers understand what they need to do with packaging. We also look at circularity and how this can be built in the Australian marketplace so the materials coming in have multiple lives.”

The merits of compostable substrates, versus recyclable ones, were also covered.

“I think one of the challenges we face there is that compostables are going to require infrastructure. Based on the advice we have is that food applications are really the only place compostables should be used as we don’t have the capacity to capture large amounts of this material,” she said.

“Compostables are a challenging area. We are hamstrung here due to not having a lot of organic waste processing capacity. There is also a barrier from a consumer point of view as people see compostables as breaking down in the environment, but biodegradability and compostability are different.”

The issue of the cost of compostable substrates, versus non-compostable but recyclable substrates was also raised at the end in question time.

Paramor said she expected this would come down over time as economies of scale balanced out but in the meantime advised printers and packaging manufacturers to keep suggesting it as compostable papers offer great solutions.

How are we going with the 2025 target:

Paramor said there had been some acceleration with take up in 2018/19 and whilst some targets are going well, others are needing some extra work.

The below screenshot shows are Australia is tracking across the four criteria so far.

“We are not doing too badly in a few of those but we have a long way to go with a few of them. We have reached the tipping point, people are getting it and getting on board. We also have a lot of work to do under the National Waste Policy Action Plan,” she said.

“We are working close with industry to increase waste recovery.”

To conclude, Paramor urged printers and packaging manufacturers to get out there and have a go with innovations and guidance to customers. She advised all to contact APCO at if they need assistance.

To watch Paramor’s webinar, please click here for the recording and class notes.

Next week’s webinar scheduled for Wednesday 11 August at 11am will feature RetailX managing director Juanita Neville-Te Rito who will discuss “Understanding your customer – how will retailers use print in the future”.

To register please click here.

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