Packaging to be subject to strict new rules

Packaging in Australia will soon be subject to strict new government rules aimed at cutting waste and boosting recycling.

The historic agreement was struck at a national meeting of environment ministers and will help make sure packaging waste is minimised in the first place, and where packaging is used it is designed to be recovered, reused, recycled, or reprocessed. 

Tanya Plibersek, Minister for Environment and Water, said they want to better protect nature and reverse decline.

“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.

“Put simply, we’re making too much, using too much, and too much is ending up in landfill.”

The new rules include mandatory packaging design standards and targets, including for recycled content and to address the use of harmful chemicals in food packaging.

“Until now, governments have ignored calls to step in and set mandatory targets. While some in the industry have stepped up to voluntarily reduce their impact, it’s just not enough. We’re changing that,” explained Plibersek.

David Stout, Director of Policy at The National Retail Association (NRA), welcomed the announcement.

“Many businesses have been working hard to overcome challenges and meet sustainability targets, and this landmark commitment to consistency between states, territories, and federal government gives industry the confidence to progress.

“Businesses have been calling for a ‘true north’ and should now have more certainty to invest in innovation and infrastructure with standardised definitions and clearer guidance in adopting more sustainable packaging.”

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