The recent issues around our recycling system have made us question packaging.
Food packaging, in particular, uses a combination of different types of plastics, paper and cardboard, glass and metals such as steel and aluminium, and while almost all of these materials can be recycled, the knowledge that much of it has not been recycled, but baled and shipped overseas or stored in warehouses is profoundly disappointing.
The recently-created 2025 National Packaging Targets should help get us back on track with a sustainable pathway for new packaging options.
The 2025 target is for 100 per cent of all packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable, 70 per cent of plastic packaging to be recycled or composted, an average of 30 per cent of recycled content to be included in packaging and the phasing out of problematic single-use plastic packaging.
If we are to have an effective circular economy model in Australia then these targets will need to be met.
Most importantly, we know that the community is keen to see change. Where once the multiple layers of packaging around food products such as biscuits were seen as a sign of a premium product, today they are met by annoyance and frustration.
The challenge for packaging producers will be in redesigning packaging to meet expectations of avoidance, reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling.
This means more thought put into what happens at the end of the life/usefulness of the packaging material.
We also need rethink packaging not as a waste but as a resource.
At the same time we must remember that packaging plays a critical role in preserving and safeguarding products - food in particular - as we don't want to increase food waste while reducing packaging waste.
The packaging revolution has already started with more options for BYO packaging, promoting avoidance, greater use of recycled material in packaging and the development of more home-compostable plastics making it easy for disposal at home. Vive la Revolution!