Sustainability is a major focus of activity for the Packaging Council of Australia

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 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 2007 PCA Statement on sustainability 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".

(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.

These include:

  • 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.

We also seek to participate regularly in public forums and exhibitions on sustainability and environmental issues.

Publications for Download

Packaging and Sustainability

Sustainability is an important part of the public debate about the role of packaging. It is also an increasingly important part of the decision making by companies in the packaging supply chain. Here are a number of largely international reports on various aspects of packaging sustainability.

Design for Sustainability with Plastics: July 2011

Arthritis Australia - Improving Packaging Accessibility

Accessibility Benchmarking Scale

A Global Language for Packaging and Sustainability: June 2010
The Global Packaging Report

Carbon Labelling
BusinessEurope Position Paper

Packaging in the Sustainability Agenda: Feb 2010
Written by EUROPEN and ECR Europe Members

Finding the Green in Today's Shoppers: May 2009
Sustainability Trends and New Shopper Insights

Why Global Packaging Standards are Urgently Needed: February 2009

Packaging in Perspective: October 2008
Prepared by the UK Advisory Committee on Packaging

Rattling Supply Chains: November 2008
The Effect of Environment Trends on Input Costs for the Fast-Moving FMCG Industry

Packaging and Sustainability: May 2008
Comments by CEO of Packaging Council of Australia at the ENVIRO 08 Conference

Waste Management, Recycling & Container Deposits

Waste management, recycling and the pros and cons of container deposits have been consistent issues for the packaging industry over the last two decades. The PCA believes that the Australian industry has a solid record of achievement on waste minimisation and recycling. Our opposition to the introduction to container deposits is outlined in these documents.

Container Deposit Systems: July 2011
Letter to Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

RIS Joint Letter to Ministers: June 2010
Boomerang Alliance

Letter to Minister Peter Garrett: June 2010

Container Deposit Legislation: May 2009
CDL Excerpts

Container Deposit Legislation - "Lazy Policy Option": May 2009
Presentation by Gavin Williams

Research Findings: Packaging & Recycling: April 2009
Omni Access

Beverage Container Investigation: March 2009
EPHC Beverage Container Working Group FInal Report


Perhards, a U.K – Based public affairs consultancy which specialises in packaging waste management policy, has over the last decade written or been involved with a number of reports and submissions which have been commissioned by the PCA. Many of these reports are available below. It amounts to an impressive body of work.

Wine Exports
Environmental Consequences

Comments on Papers for the NPC Framework Group Meeting
6 February, 2009

Perchard's Response to the Boomerang Alliance

Perchard's Rebuts Boomerang Alliance

The Boomerang Alliance
Container Deposits - The Common Sense Approach

The Boomerang Alliance
Perchard's Response to The Boomerang Report

Boomerang Alliance: June 2005
Perchard's Response Again

Response to the Boomerang Alliance
Perhard's View

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