The Path to Positive Packaging

Date: 11-Jul-13
Author: Ryan Collins


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We sometimes take consumer packaging for granted. It protects the products we buy. However, sometimes packaging can be excessive; sometimes there are better packaging materials that would reduce the impact on our environment; and sometimes the recycling of packaging actually creates a resource.

The Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) is a sustainable packaging initiative that aims to change the culture of business to design more sustainable packaging, increase recycling rates and reduce packaging litter. It is an agreement between government, industry and community groups to work together to find and fund solutions to address packaging sustainability issues.

It began life in the form of the National Packaging Covenant in August 1999 which heralded the beginning of unprecedented cooperation between all sectors of the packaging chain to minimise the environmental impacts of consumer packaging and paper waste. At the end of October 2000, this Covenant had 131 signatories. It now has over 800 signatories.

Through the APC, signatories agree to take a leading role in managing the impact of its packaging. The APC:

  • Adopts a lifecycle approach.
  • Provides industry with tools to design sustainable packaging.
  • Requires industry to take accountable actions which lead to positive environmental outcomes.
  • Funds initiatives which increase recycling and reduce litter.

In 2012, the recycling rate of consumer packaging was 63.8%, up from just 39% in 2003. And APC funded projects accounted for 32.4% of the increase of recycling tonnes from 2005 to 2012. Looks like they're heading in the right direction!

If you have any enquiries, complaints or would like advice about the consumer packaging of APC signatories, contact the APC Packaging Line on 1300 308 030 or email

The APC is a proud supporter of Planet Ark's National Recycling Week.


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