Packaging industry sets new recycling and litter reduction targets
At its annual symposium today the Glass Packaging Forum (the Forum) reported on the performance of its two accredited packaging product stewardship schemes and set out new targets for packaging.
4 July 2014
David Carter, Chair of the Forum, outlined the Forum’s role as a product stewardship organisation: “It’s a decade since the packaging industry signed the Packaging Accord which set targets for recycling, encouraged better design and anticipated an increase in end of life recycling options for post-consumer packaging waste including a focus on public place recycling.
As the Packaging Accord ended mid 2009 the Waste Minimisation Act came into law enabling the development of voluntary product stewardship schemes. Our work as a glass packaging organisation funded by voluntary levies allowed us to move relatively seamlessly from the Accord to an accredited product stewardship scheme.”
“Glass recovery increased from 50% in 2004 to 69% in 2014. This recycling rate is on a par with the European average of 70%. Over the same period the Forum has raised around $6.5 million to help support research and development, capital projects and consumer awareness and education programmes which support the work of local authorities.
“This year we have set a challenging recycling target of 78% by the time the scheme is up for renewal in 2017. To achieve this we have focused on identifying the whereabouts of the glass not being recycled and how best to recover it.”
“In 2010 the Forum took over the operational activities of the Love NZ public place recycling programme which central government had initiated during the Packaging Accord. Since then industry has matched the Government’s seed funding dollar for dollar and has more than doubled the number of Love NZ recycling bins at less cost. In November 2013 the Forum successfully achieved accreditation of its voluntary Public Place Recycling Scheme which sets targets to triple the number of public place recycling bins over seven years and to reduce litter by 10% over the same period.”
“Ten years ago our industry took a leadership role when it established a levy to address our collective role as product stewards. Over the past five years we have conducted consumer market research and stakeholder research to better understand what people expect of industry. We have listened and responded and as a result the Forum now represents more than the glass industry. Members of the Public Place Recycling Scheme include quick service restaurants; plastic, cans and paper manufacturers, shopping malls and transport hubs.”
“Our focus is outward towards the community rather than being a traditional member services organisation. This means that in addition to looking after the needs of our members we also seek to look after society’s needs. The two are not mutually exclusive. As we embark on our second decade, it is clear to us that product stewardship whether voluntary or mandatory must be a feature of the way we do business. It is important for the Forum to clarify its role representing all types of packaging as well as outlets where packaged goods are sold.”
“The Government has recently released its discussion paper outlining priority waste streams for product stewardship intervention. The proposed priority products are all products where voluntary measures have suffered from non-participation or free riders. We have proven that it is possible to develop packaging product stewardship schemes which are funded by industry and which work but we now need to address the gaps in our packaging product stewardship portfolio to build credible industry schemes beyond glass and public place recycling and seek accreditation for these.”
“In addition to the targets we have set for glass recovery, public place recycling and litter reduction, the community expects us to dial up the overall packaging recovery rate from the 56% recovery rate when lasted reported in 2010. The European average recovery rate was 77% in 2011 with a recycling rate of 64%. We believe that with effective product stewardship schemes in place to help increase packaging recovery from kerbside and public places, we should set a goal to achieve 70% recovery across all packaging by 2020.”
“Government has assessed packaging as having relatively low risk of harm but one which offers very high resource efficiency opportunities. We agree with this assessment. We do not however agree with the assessment that the packaging industry cannot self-regulate. We can and we have done as our two accredited schemes show and it’s now incumbent on us to extend our work programme to meet government and community expectations.”