Food manufacturers welcome support for waste partnership

Posted by Isobel Drake on 6th November 2009

A Communiqué by Australia’s Environment Ministers outlining a comprehensive long-term national waste strategy has been well received by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC). Meanwhile, the idea of a National Container Deposit System remains under review.

The Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) strategy released yesterday welcomed the support and leadership of industry in reducing packaging waste and improving recycling rates across the nation.

Under the new National Waste Policy, Environment Ministers supported a strengthened industry and government partnership called the Australian Packaging Covenant that will have a greater focus on packaging design, workplace and public place recycling and litter reduction programs.

The current industry and government partnership, which has been operating for the past 10 years, has seen Australia’s packaging recycling rates rise from below 40 per cent to almost 60 per cent over the past five years.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell welcomed the strengthened Covenant and said industry was looking forward to continuing to work with government on its commitment to recycling programs, especially on away-from-home recycling facilities.

“Industry welcomes this strong support however we recognise that we have a greater role to play to improve sustainable packaging, reducing litter and increasing recycling,” Ms Carnell said. “We are dedicated to increasing industry’s commitment in these important areas – and we understand that industry has much more work to do in the future.”

Ms Carnell said industry was committed to responding to community calls for more recycling options in places like sporting venues, airports and food courts, which would now be achievable following the support of government to commit to the existing partnership approach.

Container Deposit Legislation

Environment ministers remain undecided over the prospect of a container deposit levy, similar to the legislation seen in Adelaide. The ministers noted there had been a high level of community interest in the possible scheme but are reserving their judgments until a final report into the idea is tabled.

“Ministers are keenly awaiting the results of the final report, to assist them to make an evidence based decision on what action to take on the community’s desire to recycle more packaging and reduce litter,” they advised. “If a sufficient willingness to pay is demonstrated by the community, through the report findings, the next step would be to compare this against the cost of a range of options, including a Container Deposit Scheme and a range of other targeted activities.”