The NSW Plastic Action Plan and Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy has been released as an integrated approach from the NSW government to manage plastic and develop a long-term waste, litter and recycling plan.
According to the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), representing Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing industry, plastic packaging has a role in maintaining food and grocery product quality and safety, extending product life and reducing food waste. However, this needs to be balanced with the detriment that plastic can cause to the environment.
Recognising this, food and grocery manufacturers are working to reduce their reliance on virgin plastics and other packaging materials, and increase recycling and re-use rates.
“Balancing the needs to preserve food, reduce food waste and ensure community health and safety by producing high quality food and grocery products, while increasing recycled content and improving the end-of-life management of packaging, is a complex task,” AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said.
“There is much to be done in the evolving space of developing food grade recycled content so the government’s focus on R&D funding to support increasing the amount of recycled plastic in products is a welcome start.”
The food and grocery sector supports the Plastic Action Plan, which strikes a balance for all sectors to collaborate and develop a much-needed plastics circular economy, according to Barden.
“The AFGC is leading the development of the National Plastic Recycling Scheme (NPRS) with the aim of dramatically increasing the collection and recycling of soft plastic packaging such as bread bags, toilet paper wrap and confectionery wrappers,” she said.
“The NSW Plastic Action Plan support for R&D and trials to find innovative recycling solutions and increase the recycled content in food and medicinal safe packaging is much needed and welcomed by industry.
“Providing a clear policy framework supported by innovation funding support will drive industry confidence and actions towards creating a circular economy, where packaging materials are not only collected locally but recycled locally, to produce high quality material able to be remanufactured into food grade packaging,” Barden said.
The AFGC also supports the NSW Government in reducing carbon emissions through requiring food and organics collections by 2030 and supporting the recovery of biogas from waste materials.