After the success of Snap Back photo competition, BA's plastic packaging campaign continued apace in July with a hugely successful breakfast forum, 'The Future of Plastic Packaging – Driving Change for Consumer Packaged Goods'.
With a diverse audience of more than 100 people, representing the consumer goods sector, the recycling industry, local government and community groups, topics for discussion included the 'best way forward to reduce the vast quantity of plastic used consumer goods packaging', 'how to stimulate demand for recycled plastics in the wake of the Chinese ban on plastic imports' and 'the April commitment by state and federal Environment Minsters to make all packaging either recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.'
With Bloomberg Australia generously providing a spectacular venue for the event atop one of Sydney's greenest buildings, One Bligh, representatives from environmental and sustainability authorities and organisations met with community groups, leading retailers and industry giants to discuss the future of plastic packaging in consumer goods and the infrastructure holes that need to be filled to improve Australia's capacity on waste collection, processing and recycling.
Consumer goods manufacturers Coca Cola, Danone, Unilever and Kellogg's, tech companies Fuji Xerox and Dell and supermarket retailers Coles and Aldi connected with senior figures from the NSW EPA and local community groups including Clean Up Australia, Responsible Cafes, Bye Bye Plastic, Planet Ark, Close The Loop, in addition to Sydney local government representatives from Randwick, Waverly and Inner West Councils.
The forum began with a keynote from Brooke Donnelly, CEO of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), who presented the newly launched Australasian Recycling Label (ARL). Pre-empting the April commitment by state and federal Environment Minsters to make all packaging either recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, APCO’s new labeling scheme aims to inform consumers about the current domestic recyclability of product packaging at the point of purchase, as well as what to do with the packaging at the point of disposal. The scheme, developed in conjunction with Planet Ark, also provides business with the capacity to assess the recyclability of the materials used in packaging design and make necessary adjustments to improve packaging profiles, through the accompanying Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Tool (PREP).
The forum also heard from Justin Dowel, CEO and 2nd generation owner of Nature's Organics, one of the only companies in Australia committed to utilising 100% post-consumer recycled plastic packaging right across their product range. Recently interview by Boomerang Alliance for our Pioneers series, Justin’s inspiring presentation highlighted the difficulties faced by Australian manufacturers seeking to establish circular economies around plastic packaging.
The forum was rounded out with a dynamic panel discussion, which included our two keynote speakers alongside Gayle Sloan, CEO of the Waste Management Association of Australia, Richard Fine, Product Development & Sustainability Director at BioPak and Jo Taranto, Founder of Good for the Hood (the most recent addition to the Boomerang Alliance family). Highlighting the diverse range of approaches to addressing the issues of overpackaging and excessive plastic use, the panelists were unanimous in their belief that much more needs to be done and that we all have a role to play in driving solutions. This ranged from government’s role in establishing mandatory Product Stewardship frameworks and driving demand for recycled plastic content, to industry ramping up domestic recycling capacity to supply quality recycled materials, through to the empowerment of consumers to demand better options from their suppliers at the shelf.
Perhaps the most inspiring outcome of the forum was acknowledging the momentous societal shift that has that has occurred on this issue in a relatively short period of time. Without doubt, awareness around plastic pollution is reaching a tipping point and Boomerang Alliance is proud to have been at the vanguard of that movement for more than a decade – it’s great to see all that hard work paying off!
We will continue to work hard in this space, convening a Round Table in the latter part of the year to continue the dialogue. We will seek to bring together all the players that will help achieve the circular economy that we believe is necessary, to reduce the amount of plastic waste going to landfill or ending up in the environment.
Watch this space for further updates…