Sustainability is a major focus of activity for the Packaging Council of Australia
The Board of the PCA - comprising the leaders of Australia's packaging industry - released a statement in May 2007 entitled "Towards Sustainable Packaging".
Climate change, greenhouse gases, water and energy usage are all issues provoking concern about the sustainability of our lifestyles. Sustainability has quickly become a "mainstream" issue. While packaging is not the major focus of the debate, it is inevitably being affected by it.
David Perchard put it well when, in a recent paper he prepared for the PCA, he noted that:
"Prompted largely by a growing realisation that climate change (whatever the causes) is a reality, there has been a sudden growth of interest in sustainability. Our sources of oil and gas are looking increasingly unstable, and this moved resource conservation up the agenda - what happens if (or when) we can no longer obtain enough oil to meet our needs? The conjunction of these concerns has led to a public acceptance that lifestyle issues have to be addressed - which brings us back to the role of packaging in society and whether it needs to be curbed."
The PCA Statement is direct and challenging. It does not amount to "business as usual" and nor is it "window dressing." It reflects the Board's view that such an approach will only inflict damage on the industry and companies in the packaging supply chain. The industry has a solid record of environmental achievement and needs to build on it. The initiatives outlined will, inevitably, take us well beyond the scope of the Covenant. The task ahead is to put "flesh on the bones" of the Statement and deliver real outcomes.
A comprehensive program of actions is being undertaken to implement the Strategy. The major elements are as follows:
(1) Report on "The State of Sustainable Packaging in Australia"
The aim of this Report released in July 2008, was to benchmark the performance of Australian packaging on sustainability, to document the progress made towards sustainable packaging and to compare our performance with international practice.
(2) Australian Packaging – Real Examples of Change and Innovation
The fourth edition, released in early 2010, continues to feature specific examples of packaging changes and innovations.
The listed products and their packaging in the fourth edition have been designed, developed and produced either to reduce their environmental impact or which incorporate significant innovation aspects.
The environmental aspects focus on the reduced use of resources to make the packaging, reducing waste, improving recycling, taking steps to eliminate litter and/or cutting greenhouse emissions.
The entries focusing on innovation are products that increase consumer acceptability, enhance ease of use and demonstrate a significant benefit in the marketplace.
(3) Educational Role
An important aspect of the PCA's work on Sustainability has been the continuation of the educational focus of recent years. This educational focus has been successful beyond our expectations. The feedback has been extremely positive largely because we have insisted on producing balanced, factual material devoid of "packaging propaganda".
Annually the PCA conducts three sets of Awards:
- The National Schools Packaging Design Challenge (for primary and secondary students);
- The Southern Cross Package Design Awards (for tertiary students);
- The Australian Packaging Design Awards (for industry).
(4) Engaging the General Community
The industry needs to engage and participate in the community debate and discussion on Sustainability and environmental issues generally to a much greater extent than has occurred previously.
Throughout the year we seek to participate regularly in public forums and exhibitions on sustainability and environmental issues. Teacher Professional Development sessions and visits to schools are conducted regularly in every State and Territory.
The Council has developed an impressive suite of materials addressing environmental issues.
- A Report on sustainable packaging in Australia;
- The fourth edition of the "Real Changes" brochure to be completed in early 2010;
- Six text books for Primary and Secondary teachers
- The National Schools Packaging Design Challenge for primary and secondary students;
- Our continuing involvement at the tertiary educational level with the Southern Cross Package Design Awards;
- As well as our efforts with companies through the Australian Packaging Awards for industry to promote and foster sustainability.
For further information on industry initiatives see: www.amcor.com/sustainability
In short, we have a set of tools to substantiate the sustainability credentials of the industry.
We also seek to participate regularly in public forums and exhibitions on sustainability and environmental issues.