The National Waste Policy: Less Waste, More Resources, which was agreed by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council in November 2009 and endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in October 2010, sets the direction for national action on waste and resource recovery for the period to 2020. The Australian Packaging Covenant is a key national mechanism for implementing Strategy 3 of the National Waste Policy - better management of packaging to improve the use of resources, reduce the environmental impact of packaging design, enhance away from home recycling and reduce litter.
The covenant is the voluntary component of a co-regulatory arrangement which dates back to 1999. It is based on the principles of shared responsibility through product stewardship, between key stakeholders in the packaging supply chain and the Australian, state, territory and local governments. Signatories to the covenant are obliged to prepare an action plan outlining how the covenant principles will be implemented in their business operations.
The Australian Government's Australian Packaging Covenant Action Plan 2010 2015 outlines the activities the government will undertake to assist the Australian Packaging Covenant in achieving its objectives and goals. This action plan builds on activities undertaken under the previous National Packaging Covenant and aims to make government operations more sustainable and drive a culture of sustainability in Australia.
Government agencies are responsible for implementing the commitments in this action plan and reporting qualitative data through a new reporting template. The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities will facilitate the implementation of this action plan and prepare an annual report to the Australian Packaging Covenant Council. The action plan outlines how the Australian Government will incorporate the principles of the covenant in its operations by:
- implementing the covenant's Sustainable Packaging Guidelines
- implementing recovery systems for used packaging materials and paper
- purchasing products that include recycled materials
- facilitating nationally effective product stewardship policies and programs relating to packaging.
This action plan was endorsed by Senator Don Farrell, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, on 8 June 2011.