At the Australian Organic Conference in Brisbane last week, businesses reaffirmed their commitments to the 2025 National Packaging Targets, while recognising the need to shift consumer behaviour.

The 2025 targets, which were first established in 2018, include: a move to 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging; 70 per cent of packaging being recycled or composted; and the phase out of ‘problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging.’

In a show of the industry’s ambition, 2020 saw a target of 30 per cent of average recycled content included in packing was revised upwards to 50 per cent.

Wine panel outlines need for consumer consciousness change

Also highlighted at the conference was the need for the wine industry to encourage a shift in consumer behaviour.

Mike Bennie, wine writer and Co-Founder of P&V Merchants, hosted a panel discussing this subject that included Kieran Hirlam, Project Team Manager for Affinity Labs, Michael Rogers, CEO of Cutler Sustainable Packaging, and Sarah McElholum, Endeavour Group’s Group Sustainability and Product Quality Manager.

In particular, the panel discussed the need to move away from traditional weighty glass bottles, with the production and transport of glass wine bottles on of the industry’s biggest environmental ‘hot spots’.

“Australian winemakers were early adopters of the screwcap bottles, and initially many traditionalists were reluctant to believe they would work as well as cork, however they are now considered mainstream in industry,” Bennie said.

“We know consumers are much more conscious about making sustainable purchases and doing the right thing for the planet, so we need to start shifting consumer behaviour to increase purchases of wine sold in easy recyclable products, such as pouches or aluminium cans.”

Compared to standard 500 gram bottles, cask wine packaging reduces lifecycle impacts by 48 per cent.

Bennie said that despite Australia’s history of innovation in this space (with Australian brands establishing the use of cask and screwcaps for premium wines) overseas companies are now taking the lead on sustainable packaging.

“For example, [UK-based] Garcon Wines package their product in an eco-flat recyclable wine bottle, which is 87 per cent lighter in weight and 40 per cent smaller, while the Frugal brand is making wine bottles out of 94 per cent recycled paperboard with a food grade pouch that is five times lighter than glass,” Bennie said.

“These are fabulous innovative alternatives to glass, however at this stage, technologies like PET and the Frugal bottle are yet to be determined that they meet the sustainability parameters of the Australian recycling architecture.”

Bennie outlined how companies were somewhat limited by the existing recycling infrastructure in Australia.

“While these [glass alternatives] have proven themselves in Europe, Australia has less advanced recycling technology and we have to understand if they can be diverted from landfill.”

Bennie added that Australian producers and retailers were working on new solutions in this space.

“There’s currently research underway for stand-up pouches and a bespoke aluminium cask for the Australian market, however, as an industry, we’re very focused on ensuring any new packaging doesn’t introduce long-term environmental issues,” Bennie concluded.

Lesley Fox

New support for smaller businesses

Lesley Fox, Partnerships and Projects Officer for the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), said the non-profit would introduce a new educational campaign for medium and small businesses in the near future.

“We work closely with businesses of all sizes to provide them with the tools and resources they need to transform their packaging, however we are excited to announce a new campaign to encourage and guide small to medium-sized enterprises to incorporate more sustainable packaging principles into their operations,” Fox said.

“We recognise SMEs often have fewer resources to support the changes they need to make, so one of the key focuses of the campaign helping them to start using the Australasian Recycling Label on their packaging.

“Knowing what can and can’t be recycled can be confusing, not only for consumers, but for businesses too, and this initiative will help address this issue.”

APCO stated that it is working with the Australian Institute of Packaging, the National Retail Association, and Australian Food and Grocery Council to deliver this new program for small businesses.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *