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History of the APC

The ‘National Packaging Covenant’ was developed in 1999 through a collaborative process involving a broad range of industry sectors and all spheres of government. When endorsing the Covenant, Australian and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council Ministers agreed, that subject to a significant uptake of participation in the Covenant, the Covenant/NEPM package would be the sole instrument for managing consumer packaging waste in participating jurisdictions for five years (until June 2005).

The launch of the National Packaging Covenant on 27 August 1999 heralded the beginning of unprecedented cooperation between all sectors of the packaging chain to minimise the environmental impacts of consumer packaging and paper waste, close the recycling loop and develop economically viable and sustainable recycling collection systems. At the formal launch of the National Packaging Covenant, eight Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers, two local governments, nine industry associations and thirteen industry organisations/companies signed.

At the end of the first full calendar year of its operation, the Covenant process had established a firm foundation; however there was more work to be done to promote the Covenant within industry and local government. The National Packaging Covenant Council (NPCC) had to consider broader promotion of the Covenant by industry and local government to encourage more signatories and the development and implementation of work plans by jurisdictional recycling groups.

At the end of October 2000, the Covenant had gained a further three local governments or regional waste organisations, three industry associations and 93 companies, bringing the total signatories to 131. While the total number of signatories was not high after the first year of operation, the NPCC was satisfied with the continuing momentum of sign-ons and the coverage the Covenant now gave to the entire packaging chain. This was only the beginning! At the end of June 2005 there were 645 signatories.

Covenant Review

 In 2003 the NPCC agreed to undertake a comprehensive and independent evaluation of the Covenant and to identify key issues for consideration. In addition, the NPCC agreed to provide funds to the Australian Local Government Association to enable it to conduct an independent, but complementary, review of the Covenant from a local government perspective. The primary purpose of this evaluation was to ascertain, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, the extent to which the Covenant had achieved its stated and related objectives in respect of product stewardship, sustainable kerbside recycling systems and the effectiveness of the collaborative forum developed between all parties to the Covenant in addressing issues and problems relating to packaging waste. A secondary purpose was to identify issues that would need to be addressed to improve

Covenant implementation processes and address any shortcomings identified by the parties if the Covenant had only partially achieved its objectives.

 Taking into account the findings, the Covenant Council prepared a Consultation Proposal paper containing recommendations for concrete actions and changes to strengthen the Covenant. It was Council’s intention that the proposal be considered as a starting point for consultation and negotiation with key stakeholders. To ensure that all key stakeholders had an opportunity to participate and contribute to the strengthened Covenant model, a series of independently facilitated consultation forums were organised throughout Australia. Stakeholders also had the option of submitting written responses to the Consultation Proposal putting forward their views in more detail or to cover aspects they felt had not been sufficiently dealt with.

 At their meeting in July 2005, the Environment Protection and Heritage Council agreed to the proposal for a strengthened Covenant for a term of five years (until June 2010). The revised Covenant commited signatories to National Targets and KPIs, which it had not done in the past.

On July 1st 2010, an open-ended Australian Packaging Covenant commenced.

Read more about the achievements of the APC in our publication: APC Twelve Years of Achievements