Australia targets 50% average recycled packaging content by 2025

Author: Matt Tudball


LONDON (ICIS)--The Australia National Plastic Plan 2021 has set a recycled content target of 50% by 2025 for all packaging, with separate targets for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP), as well as phasing out expandable polystyrene (EPS) in certain applications by 2022.

The Plan is the result of Australia’s first ever National Plastics Summit, held in March 2020, and which brought together government, industry and community sectors to identify and showcase new ideas and solutions to tackle the country’s plastics challenge.

Part of the Plan is the setting of recycled content targets for plastics packaging set by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), with deadlines in 2022 and 2025. The targets are:

Current recycled content 2022 Target 2025 Target
All packaging 39% 42% 50%
PET 14% 20% 30%
HDPE 3% 8% 20%
PP 2% 8% 20%

As well as recycled content, the Plan also addresses several other issues and lays out several different targets. The full list of actions can be found in the Plan, but some highlights include:

  • Phase out EPS from loose packaging fill and moulded packaging in consumer packaging (July 2022), and EPS consumer food and beverage containers (December 2022)
  • Phase out PVC packaging labels (December 2022)
  • Industry to transition towards higher-value, easily recyclable plastics such as PET, HDPE, LDPE and PP, and encourage the design of easier to recycle products
  • Banning the export of unsorted mixed plastic from 1 July 2021 and unprocessed single polymer or resin plastics from 1 July 2022
  • Develop nationally consistent performance standards for material recovery facilities to deliver clean feedstock for remanufacturing
  • Better recycling information for consumers via the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL), helping consumers understand what can and cannot be recycled
  • Combat Greenwashing by the Government referring companies making false or misleading labelling and environmental claims to the ACCC for investigation

In a joint introduction to the plan, Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley and Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, state Australia is on a plastics mission. They said the government will tackle the plastics challenge on several fronts, including “unprecedented investments to turbo-charge Australia’s plastic recycling capacity” and “research to make Australia a global leader in plastic recycling and reprocessing.”

Industry players are already investing in improving Australia’s recycling infrastructure, with two joint venture projects by Cleanaway Waste Management and the Pact Group, one also involving Asahi Beverages, in 2020 and 2021.

Click here to see the impact of packaging on the petrochemical industry on the ICIS Packaging Topic Page