APCO – sending old logo stock to landfill not an option – Australia

APCO – sending old logo stock to landfill not an option – Australia

Posted on May 2, 2024 by DrRossH in Plastic Recycling

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) talks about the entity’s stance on the use of the Australian Recycling Label

Source: APCO – sending old logo stock to landfill not an option – Inside Waste

In response to an recently published article on the Inside Waste portal attributed to the Boomerang Alliance, Sarah Sannen, head of operations, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) talks about the entity’s stance on the use of the Australasian Recycling Label.

“The ACCC has granted a period of two years for brand owners to transition their soft plastics labelling from the Return to Store to the new Check Locally ARL logo by 1 July 2025,” she said. “This deadline has been communicated widely to all ARL program members and many are in the process of changing their labelling.

“Following the closure of the REDcycle program, many brands were left with large amounts of existing stock containing the Return to Store logo. Simply sending this stock to landfill will result in significant environmental and financial impact and isn’t a viable option. It is essential that businesses remove the outdated label as soon as possible. However, this process takes time and requires brands to assess their packaging against the new soft plastic thresholds, update the existing artwork and apply the new label on-pack.

“APCO is working with brand owners and retailers throughout this process to meet the new Check Locally labelling requirements and the ACCC’s deadlines. The Check Locally logo was launched in July 2023 and was designed to be a future-proof label, minimising changes to packaging labelling by directing consumers to the ARL website online database with kerbside and drop-off services specific to each council area in Australia. The database is regularly updated as new infrastructure and recycling pathways for hard-to-recycle items become available. Additionally, the ARL program requirements for soft plastics were revised last year and all of our members have been informed that any packaging that does not meet the new thresholds must be labelled with the Not Recyclable logo.

“APCO has been engaging with the ACCC regularly throughout this process to establish an aligned approach and to ensure there is clarity and transparency for consumers about soft plastics disposal.

“Additionally, looking to the future, APCO has been working with industry to identify and scale up end markets to make it economically viable to capture and re-process all soft plastic material. We are already seeing progress being made by industry. The new soft plastic recycling facilities opened by Close the Loop and CRDC have increased local recycling capacity, and this has enabled the Soft Plastics Taskforce to roll out soft plastic recycling trials in select Melbourne supermarkets. We hope to see additional soft plastic recycling facilities open over the course of the next year.”

About the ARL Program
The ARL program is based on an evidence-based governance model that ensures all ARLs placed on-pack provide clear and accurate disposal instructions. The ARL program has a number of systems in place to ensure the accuracy of its labelling:

  • Before a program member can apply the ARL on its packaging, it must first assess that item of packaging using the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP). PREP is an online tool that assesses packaging recyclability by considering all recyclability factors (shape, size, inks, weight, adhesives and materials), as well as the availability of collection services.
  • For an item of packaging to carry the Recyclable ARL, 80 per cent of the Australian population must have access to collection and recycling facilities.
  • For an item of packaging to carry the Check Locally logo, the council collection status for these materials falls within the Less Widely Accepted thresholds, where between 60-80 per cent of the Australian population has access to a council kerbside service or, if a soft plastic, it must have been assessed as meeting the recyclability thresholds for soft plastics in Australia.
  • APCO undertakes annual third-party audits of the ARL to further support organisations and their internal processes to track, apply and report on their use of the ARL.
  • The ARL program is supported by a robust governance structure, which ensures that the decisions being made regarding updates to the program are evidence-based, well-communicated and feedback from key stakeholders is incorporated. This structure includes APCO’s Internal Review Committee, specific Material Stewardship Committees and an Independent Review Panel.