For the first time, Australia’s federal and state governments have agreed to impose mandatory packaging rules on manufactures and retailers attempting to reduce waste and boost recycling.
This agreement comes after years of the industry failing to reduce waste through its voluntary programs. The move has been seen as a major breakthrough and a positive change by conservationists. Tanya Plibersek, the federal environment minister, called the agreement “historic.”
Afterward, a press release laid out the new regulatory scheme that promotes a shift in the country toward a circular economy, minimizing waste and leading to materials being “recovered, reused, recycled, and reprocessed.”
The agreement promises rules for packaging designs based on the best international practices and would regulate harmful chemicals and contaminates, keeping them out of the process.
An official review conducted in April uncovered that Australia was only recycling about 18% of its plastic packaging, which would fall well short of its 70% target by 2025. Plibersek commented that, while some in the industry had reduced their impact voluntarily, it has “just not [been] enough.”
According to the minister, major companies, including Nestle, Unilever, and Coca-Cola, are supporting this mandated regulation.
“We need to dramatically reduce packaging waste, and the harmful chemicals that destroy our environment. We see packaging in the guts of dead birds, floating in our oceans, destroying nature as it takes generations to degrade,” Pilbersek said. “Put simply, we’re making too much, using too much, and too much is ending up in landfill.”