• L-R: Louis Nottle, J&P Flexographics; Ian Hayes, APCO; David Pointer, Opal; Nathan Wardell, Packserv; Viv Vinci, APCO.
    L-R: Louis Nottle, J&P Flexographics; Ian Hayes, APCO; David Pointer, Opal; Nathan Wardell, Packserv; Viv Vinci, APCO.
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Over at the Seminar Theatre, as part of the Food Industry Solution Series, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation's (APCO) Ian Hayes gave an update on progress towards the 2025 Packaging Targets, and a panel discussion saw industry experts provided advice on how companies can integrate sustainable solutions into their production lines.

Hayes, head of packaging transformation at APCO, opened up the seminar by introducing the work APCO does, and saying that packaging is becoming more of a global issue. “More than half of packaging in Australia is imported, over half of that is plastic,” he said.

An important point Hayes honed in on, what that how packaging is designed must address the public’s sentiment towards waste.

He said we are making good progress towards the 2025 targets, some we are even ahead. For example, now that we have achieved more than 35 per cent recycled content, the target has moved towards 50 per cent.

According to Hayes, one of the highlights of a show such as APPEX is that representatives from the entire value chain are in this hall. This means that the message can be heard by the whole of industry. “It’s like the chain of a bicycle - as long as everyone along the value chain does their bit, we can achieve,” he stressed.

One issue he pointed out is that paper is not being recycled enough. The amount of paper/cardboard that goes to landfill equates the amount of plastic that is produced every year.

He also stressed that there are many questions to be addressed still, such as how to meet the national packaging targets? And what will happen post 2025?

To answer these, he said that design standards need to be in place. Chemicals of concern need to be removed. Harmonisation across states needs to come. He also revealed that a working group is underway to work on regulated packaging design standards – although it’s still early days.

PANEL DISCUSSION

Following that was a panel discussion where the participants shared their expertise on integrating sustainable solutions into existing packaging lines.

On the question of how small businesses can overcome the hurdle that sustainable options may be expensive, David Pointer, general manager of corporate business at Opal, said that fibre-based solutions are actually not much different cost-wise from single-use plastic.

Regarding plastics, Louis Nottle, general manager at J&P Flexographics, said that as materials are becoming thinner, if we look at the cost of plastic on a unit basis as opposed to a weight basis, the price per piece is actually cheaper".

Nathan Wardell, managing director at Packserv, said, “the more people seeking sustainable materials, the more they will be readily available and affordable,” highlighting the importance that industry needs to work together to make sustainability more attainable.

Hayes also weighed in on the conversation, saying “If we move to a regulated environment, then the question changes from should we do this, to how do we do this. Part of regulation is figuring out a way to make it more affordable".

Viv Vinci, a senior packaging technologist with APCO said that the organisation wants to be the voice for industry to help with the transition. APCO is there to help those small businesses who don’t have the means to hire their own packaging technologists.

Packaging News

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Singapore-headquartered VektroPack, which recently opened an Australian office, has launched kerbside recyclable paper-based packaging for Coles’ Bake and Create and Simply baking chocolate range. Recyclability has been verified by Opal.