Media Releases | 4th Dec, 2004

New report slams packaging industry

Thursday, 4 December 2004

New data released by the Boomerang Alliance today shows that only 20% of packaging is being recovered for recycling. The report reveals the failure of Australia’s industry-government approach to packaging, the National Packaging Covenant (NPC), whose fate will be determined by national and state Environment Ministers this Friday.

The report, produced by the alliance of environment groups, also suggests that glass recovery rates reported by industry are overstated and there are no plans to avoid land filling of 50% of all packaging waste.

“The National Packaging Covenant is a recipe for inaction and the new version of the NPC to be considered by the Ministers is more of the same. Over 2.5 million tonnes of packaging waste are landfilled now. The problem will get worse unless the Ministers adopt a new approach,” said Jane Castle, TEC Campaigner. “A 20% recycling rate for packaging after 5 years is simply appalling. The new Covenant hides this figure and has no program to improve it.”

“Australians are good at recycling, so why is only 20% of our packaging waste being recycled?” asked ACF campaigner, Suzie Brown. “It is the fault of brand-owners who continue to use non-recyclable packaging, and lack of government leadership to ensure recycling and recyclability is the norm right across Australia . Those of us who put our recycling bin out each week should be angry that so much waste is slipping through the net.”

Information also released today by the Boomerang Alliance shows a comprehensive failure by industry and government representatives on the NPC Council to adopt proposals by community groups and local government, despite a NPC agreement to seek consensus.

“We will face a litter nightmare if Ministers fail to crack down on industry,” said Environment Victoria Zero Waste Campaigner Jenny Henty. “The NPC has so far failed to curb our massive appetite for waste. We can expect rubbish levels to reach suffocating proportions if industry gets off scot free.”

“The National Packaging Covenant Council must go back to the drawing board and begin real consultation with local government and NGOs. A new Covenant must include binding targets, a plan to achieve them, new economic tools to increase recovery rates, strict compliance and independent assessment.”

Report’s key findings on the National Packaging Covenant Mk 1:

  • Only 18% of packaging is recycled
  • Glass container recycling decreased from 53% in 1997 to 38% in 2002
  • Kerbside recycling (the key NPC tool) only contributes 13-39% to a range of types of packaging waste
  • The packaging industry contributes only 1% towards the costs of kerbside collection
  • Kerbside recycling costs rate-payers $295 million pa

Report’s key findings on the National Packaging Covenant Mk 2:

  • Claims of success of kerbside recycling for packaging exaggerated
  • No plan for 50% of all beverage containers – those consumed ‘away from home’
  • No targets for improved collection and recycling
  • 16 widely supported stakeholder recommendations ignored

The Environment Protection and Heritage Council, which includes all State and Federal Environment Ministers, meets on Friday 3 December to decide on the fate of the revised National Packaging Covenant.