The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) welcomes the Government’s announcement that it will hold a National Plastics Design Summit in February, further advancing collaboration with packaged goods manufacturers, retailers, the packaging and waste industries to achieve the National Packaging Targets.

The first Plastics Summit in March 2020 stimulated significant commitments and innovation by industry, including Nestle’s collection and processing trial for soft plastics, and the AFGC’s development of a product stewardship scheme to significantly upscale the collection and recycling of soft plastics, which are one-third of all plastic packaging.

AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said “Food and Grocery manufacturers are looking forward to attending the summit to demonstrate their recent achievements in improving the recyclability of their packaging and to highlight some of the challenges, such as the need for advanced recycling facilities in Australia.

“Companies such as Mondelez and Nestle have already made significant commitments to use recycled content in their packaging and the AFGC is currently working on the design of a National Plastics Recycling Scheme which is an industry-led, industry-funded scheme to close the loop on soft plastics through advanced recycling.”

Plastic has a role for food safety and to help extend the life of food products therefore reducing food waste, however it is critical that we maximise its use in the economy to reduce the need for virgin plastics and to avoid harmful effects on the environment.

“Industry has made significant announcements to address plastic and established the National Packaging Targets. This includes the introduction of recycled content in plastic packaging and use of the Australasian Recycling Label to help guide consumers on how to recycle their products, said Ms Barden.

However, the National Packaging Targets cannot be achieved by packaged goods companies alone. In addition to packaging design changes, there is a need for changes to waste collection and recycling systems, including investment in advanced recycling techniques that can break plastic down to a molecular level and produce recycled content packaging that meets food safety standards.

“This requires agreement and coordinated efforts across all stakeholders in the system, and the AFGC will continue collaborating with all stakeholders to expedite these outcomes.

“In the AFGC Pre-Budget submission, soon to be released, the AFGC will be again calling on the Federal Government to implement a grants program to support food, beverage and grocery manufacturers to innovate their packaging, which requires considerable capital investment.”

A collaborative, whole-of-community approach is needed to deal with the issue of plastic waste and the AFGC is looking forward to playing an active role in the summit,” said Ms Barden.