A national, co-regulatory product stewardship arrangement is in place which sets obligations for certain businesses to minimise the environmental impact of packaging in which their products are sold or distributed. This includes:
- all packaging made of any material (or any combination of materials) for containing, protecting, marketing, and handling consumer products,
- packaging materials used to transport consumer products to a retailer (also known as distribution or business-to-business packaging), and
- plastic bags provided to consumers by retailers at point-of-sale.
National packaging targets
Led by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), Australian businesses have committed to collectively achieving the 2025 National Packaging Targets. The targets are:
- 100% of packaging being reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025
- 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted by 2025
- 50% of average recycled content included in packaging by 2025
- the phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging by 2025.
The NSW Government is working closely with the federal government and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) to ensure national packaging targets are met or exceeded.
As part of the commitments under the NSW Plastics Action Plan 2021, the NSW Government will review the packaging industry’s progress in 2024 (3 years from the release of the plan) and if there has not been sufficient action taken against the above targets, we will consider mandating targets or design standards to address packaging waste issues.
National packaging legislation
The National Environmental Protection Measure (Used Packaging Materials) 2011 (NEPM UPM) establishes a national, co-regulatory product stewardship arrangement for consumer packaging which sets obligations for certain businesses to manage their packaging waste in a sustainable way.
The goal of the NEPM UPM is to reduce environmental degradation arising from the disposal of used packaging and conserve virgin materials through the encouragement of waste avoidance and the re-use and recycling of used packaging materials.
Are the packaging product stewardship arrangements mandatory?
Yes. The product stewardship requirements for packaging are part of a national co-regulatory arrangement, known as the National Environmental Protection Measure (Used Packaging Materials) 2011 (NEPM UPM).
In NSW, the NEPM UPM is currently supported through Part 8 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 (Waste Regulation).
Meeting your obligations
You have obligations if your business has a gross annual income in Australia of $5 million or more, and you are a:
- brand owner of consumer products (as defined by the Waste Regulation or a
- retailer who provides plastic bags to consumers for transporting consumer products.
There are two pathways available to meet your obligations to manage packaging waste in a sustainable way:
- becoming a signatory to, and complying with, the Australian Packaging Covenant, OR
- choosing to be regulated by the EPA in accordance with specific recovery targets and the other reporting requirements set out in the Waste Regulation.