AUSTRALIA – The Australian government has provided US$40.37 million (A$60m) to the Australia Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) to help boost the country’s recycling capabilities.

The efforts will further contribute to developing a circular economy system for the packaging materials used by the council’s industry partners in the country.

According to the AFGC, the funding has been provided primarily to recycle hard-to-recycle and soft plastics and also encourages a consultation regarding the traceability framework for these plastics.

The funding is projected to enhance the related food and grocery companies’ capabilities to use more recycled materials in their respective packaging.

This consultation of the national framework for recycled content traceability in particular was recently announced by Australian Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek.

AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said: “The AFGC is developing the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS) to keep soft plastic packaging out of landfill and to recycle that packaging into new, food-grade material.

“This funding will support the development of a new remanufacturing industry for packaging through investment in advanced recycling technologies, including those that turn plastic back into oil for reuse in food-grade packaging.

Such technology is currently the missing part in the supply chain and is central to the NPRS as a sustainable solution for soft plastic packaging, developed by AFGC with major brands. Traceability standards are also essential to reduce the use of virgin materials.”

The latest report on National Waste indicates that the country generated an estimated 75.8 million tonnes (MT) of waste including 25.2 MT of building and demolition materials, 14.4 MT of organics, 12.0 MT of ash, 7.4 MT of hazardous waste (mainly contaminated soil), 5.8 MT of paper and cardboard, 5.7 MT of metals and 2.6 MT of plastics in the financial year 2020-21. This is equivalent to 2.95 tonnes (t) per capita.

Australia’s resource recovery rate (recycling, waste reuse, and energy recovery) for 2020-21 was 63% and the recycling rate was 60%.

In a separate development, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organization has announced the launch of its new ‘Check Locally’ logo for soft plastics packaging, as part of its Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) system.

The launch of this logo aims to provide precise and location-specific recycling information to consumers, enhancing their awareness.

Packaging featuring this logo will direct the consumers to the ARL website,, where they can discover kerbside and drop-off services that are specific to Australia’s local councils.

Aside from soft plastics, the Check Locally symbol can be used for other materials where kerbside or drop-off collection points exist.

The logo will also be crucial in supporting collection and stewardship schemes that are expected to be implemented in the years ahead.

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