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Food manufacturers welcome potential global plastic treaty

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The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has welcomed the UN Environment Assembly’s passing of a resolution to begin negotiations on a global treaty to end plastic pollution.

AFGC CEO, Tanya Barden said the Australian food and grocery manufacturing sector has a keen interest in the UN EA resolution and the creation  of a circular economy for plastics.

“While plastic is an effective and efficient material for maintaining food and grocery safety, it is important that we design, collect and re-use or recycle plastics to reduce their impact on the environment,” said Barden.

“Addressing plastic pollution, in particular the hard to recycle plastics such as soft plastics (chip packets, bread bags, cereal box liners) is a major focus for Australian food and grocery manufacturers. The AFGC is working with manufacturers to create a National Plastic Recycling Scheme (NPRS) to collect and transform these soft plastics into new food-grade plastic.

“The Australian food, beverage and grocery industry is working to stay ahead of the curve and to ensure that other plastics, in addition to soft plastics are also collected, recycled and reused. This also includes adopting the Australasian Recycling Label, redesigning packaging and looking at alternatives.”

Barden said that the AFGC looks forward to opportunities for stakeholder input to the Australian Government’s position as negotiations progress in the second half of 2022 to develop an “….international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. 

The full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal will be part of this work.

 “Australia has a lot to show for the working being done here including several announcements this week regarding new advanced recycling facilities that can convert soft plastic waste and mixed plastics to feedstock to make recycled polyethylene plastic for use in new, food-grade plastic packaging,” said Barden.

Australia has National Packaging Targets that include a goal of recycling or composting 70 per cent of plastic packaging by 2025.

Food and grocery manufacturers, the waste and recycling industry and plastics manufacturers are committing significant resources to meeting the challenge of addressing plastic waste and meeting the National Packaging Targets.

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