Australian Packaging Covenant
The Covenant is an agreement between industry and government which aims to increase recycling, improve packaging design and reduce litter. WALGA signed the Covenant on 1 November 2005. Since then, WALGA, through the Municipal Waste Advisory Council (MWAC) has represented the interests of Local Government on the Covenant Council.
In February 2015, Commonwealth, State and Territory Environment Ministers agreed that the Covenant be extended to July 2016, while various approaches were investigated. Currently Local Government has no part in the negotiations between the Commonwealth, State Governments and industry on the future of the Covenant.
Local Government has significant concerns with the operation and effectiveness of the Covenant. Unless these concerns can be resolved Local Government sees limited reason for the Covenant to continue and that alternative options should be considered. Key Local Government concerns regarding the current Australian Packaging Covenant include:
Limited improvement and impact on Packaging Design
The Covenant aims to have an impact on packaging design, to make packaging more sustainable. However, aside from a few case studies, there is no clear sector wide data to demonstrate that this is the case. Research undertaken by the Covenant indicates packaging is moving towards lighter weight plastics and composite packaging – both of which are difficult to recycle in many areas. There is no consistent labelling as to the general recyclability of packaging and attempts to introduce this through the Covenant have failed.
Local Government and the community spend a significant amount every year to recycle material and collect litter. Project funding is sometimes useful but has not, in Western Australia, shown any broad impact on the costs of recycling. Other Product Stewardship options such as Container Deposit Systems present a system change in how material is managed and the value it has. The National TV’s and Computers Product Stewardship Scheme has set the standard for future Schemes – the producer / manufacturer should ensure the majority of the costs are covered at point of purchase, not left to be collected at end of life through the rates system.
The National Packaging Covenant Industry Association (NPCIA) is the service delivery unit for both the Australian Packaging Covenant and an anti-container deposit legislation industry organisation. This presents a fundamental conflict of interest for employees of the NPCIA and for the delivery of the Covenant.
The Australian Packaging Covenant, as it stands, does not meet the needs of Local Government or deliver on what is expected of a contemporary Product Stewardship Scheme. MWAC has developed an Options Paper, that outlines ways these issues can be resolved, and the needs of Local Government met.
Packaging Complaints Hotline
The Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) has a Packaging Complaints Hotline - just call 1300 30 80 30.
The Complaints Hotline covers any packaging made, supplied or used by APC signatories. There is also a Complaints Form available on the APC Website. The APC has committed to responding to queries within three working days. If the packaging does relate to an APC signatory, that signatory will have to respond to you directly within 20 days of receiving the complaint from the APC.
This complaints process provides a mechanism for Local Government and the community to provide feedback to those producing products regarding the suitability of their packaging.
For more information, visit the www.packagingcovenant.org.au call the Hotline, on 1300 30 80 30 or email PCK-LINE@packagingcovenant.org.au.
The agreed statement is available here.