AUSTRALIA – Australian retailer Woolworths Group has partnered with sustainable packaging solutions provider Pact Group to boost recycled packaging and achieve circular packaging.

The partnership intends to replace 18,000 tonnes of manufactured plastic with recycled plastic produced locally each year, reducing carbon emissions of 25,000 tonnes.

The deal also aims to make Pact a key strategic partner by volume for Woolworths in its efforts to adopt sustainable packaging across its own-brand range.

In addition, the companies will aim to deliver ‘the most significant boost to date’ towards the retailer’s commitment to halving the use of virgin plastic across its own-brand packaging by 2024.

The partnership is expected to represent a multi-million-dollar investment in local recycling and manufacturing capacity.

As part of the proposed deal, Pact will use recycled plastic to make packaging for Woolworths’ product range, including milk bottles, meat trays and beverage bottles.

This recycled plastic will be made from plastic collected from household recycling and container deposit schemes.

Pact currently operates five plastic recycling facilities in Australia, including the recently opened PET recycling plant in Albury-Wodonga which can recycle up to 1 billion PET beverage bottles a year. Another four facilities are planned for construction by 2025.

Woolworths Group Managing Director of Format & Network Development, Rob McCartney said: “As Australia’s largest retailer we have a responsibility to make the products our customers put in their shopping baskets better for the environment.

“We’re working hard to remove plastic from packaging like our bakery trays, however, it can be necessary to protect quality and food safety in some products – which is why replacing it with recycled plastic is the next best thing.”

Pact Group CEO and Managing Director, Sanjay Dayal said: “We know that consumers and businesses are increasingly demanding recycled and recyclable plastic packaging and Pact is working with committed partners like Woolworths Group to drive that change.

“Plastic packaging that is designed effectively, that is recyclable and recycled properly in Australia can be used again and again, creating a truly local circular economy for plastics.”

In addition to its recycling facilities, Pact is also investing US$76 million to install new technology and equipment across its packaging manufacturing facilities as it continues to grow local capacity to support the increased use of recycled plastic in Australian packaging.

The investment is supported by a US$20 million grant from the Australian Government through the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

Woolworths Group and Pact’s latest work on recycled plastic is the next chapter of a long-term relationship between the two businesses, with Pact already supplying Woolworths Group with 50 million reusable and recyclable plastic produce crates to replace traditional single-use cardboard and polystyrene boxes.

Earlier this year, Woolworths became the first major supermarket to announce the removal of reusable plastic bags from all stores nationwide by June next year.

The progressive state-by-state transition is expected to remove 9,000 tonnes of plastic from stores and online orders annually.

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