SPE: A-NZ Newsletter by the President
Only in the last Newsletter have we extensively reported about the latest activities by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF).
This Foundation has been assisting our plastics industry by encouraging change and has been very instrumental over the last years in creating a better understanding of the need for change to the benefit of the plastics industry.
On the 15th June 2021 EMF and more than 100 businesses in the packaging value chain, together with more than 50 other organisations, have publicly recognised that, without Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), packaging collection and recycling is unlikely to be meaningfully scaled and tens of millions of tonnes of packaging will continue to end up in the environment every year.
TThis action will be the beginning of a significant change for our plastics industry and not only for the packaging sector but for the conservation of resources in general.
The following statements are excerpts on the call for implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for packaging.
“As a group of businesses and stakeholders that are drawn from across the packaging value chain, we are calling for the implementation of “Extended Producer Responsibility” schemes for packaging. We recognise that EPR is a necessary part of the solution to create the circular economy for packaging we are aiming for. EPR schemes, through which all industry players that introduce packaging to the market provide funding dedicated to its collection and processing after use, are the only proven and likely pathways to provide the required funding. Without such policies, packaging collection and recycling is unlikely to be meaningfully scaled and tens of millions of tonnes of packaging will continue to end up in the environment every year.”
“To solve the packaging waste and pollution crisis, a comprehensive circular economy approach is required. We must: eliminate the packaging we don’t need; innovate to ensure all the packaging we do need is reusable, recyclable or compostable; and circulate all the packaging we use, keeping it in the economy and out of the environment. This circular economy approach would lead to significant economic, environmental and social benefits and contribute to addressing major global challenges, such as plastic pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss.”
“While, in theory, there could be many ways to provide this funding, in practice, the only proven and likely pathway to ensure dedicated, ongoing, and sufficient funding at scale is through mandatory, fee-based EPR schemes, in which all industry players introducing packaging to the market provide funding dedicated to collecting and processing their packaging after use.”
A number of you who have attended the SPE: A-NZ Section Annual Conferences on “Plastics and the Circular Economy” will remember that we have stated that EPR schemes should be considered because a new financial model should be developed by industry to provide sustainability and equitability. We did so although we hardly dared to bring up the subject in Australia as we were and are still at some distance from doing so for our local supply chains.
The other comment which we would like to make is that it is difficult to imagine why such an EPR solution should only be valid for the packaging sector and, long term, not be generally applicable for the industry.
We urge you to familiarise yourself with the exact wording and the understanding of the consequences of the suggested implementation of the proposed EPR for the packaging industry and supply chain. See: The statement, published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The other change which we would like to mention in this Newsletter is the new law in Victoria by the EPA. Also, in this case we have quoted below the exact wording as published by the Victorian EPA.
“New environmental laws come into effect from 1 July 2021. They give EPA more powers and tools to prevent risks to the environment and human health. They also allow us to issue stronger sanctions to hold polluters to account.
The general environmental duty (GED) is central to the new laws. It requires all Victorians to manage risks to human health and the environment that their activities create. Everyone must take steps to prevent or minimise those risks. For businesses, this may be things like correctly managing waste or storing chemicals safely. For individuals, this may be things like making sure rubbish from your renovations goes to the correct place or keeping household chemicals out of stormwater drains.”
For the plastics industry in Victoria this means that e.g. ‘nurdles’ on the premises need to be managed and must be prevented from leaving the site through the stormwater drains or any other means.
We would like to promote that you take the ‘pledge’ and follow the recommendations from Operation Clean SweepÒ. Operation Clean SweepÒ provides a useful guide for our polymer converters and other entities dealing with plastic materials to practice Product Stewardship. For more information you can contact: email@example.com.
Where other States and Territories in Australia do not have such a human health and environmental law (yet) we can imagine that such a law will become generally applicable to the Australian industry in the not-too-distant future.
With kind regards,
SPE: A-NZ Section Ltd