APCO awards Australian businesses for packaging sustainability excellence

Some of Australia’s most recognisable businesses were acknowledged for their work towards improving packaging sustainability as part of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) Annual Awards ceremony held on 18 November. Businesses including Kellogg, Nestlé, Coles, BioPak, and CHEP were among the big winners, each taking home multiple accolades. 

In total, 22 awards were handed out to businesses across industry sectors including retail, electronics, manufacturing, healthcare, food and beverage, and agriculture. The finalists and winners were recognised for their best practice approach to sustainable packaging design, industry leadership and sustainability education.  

Kellogg Australia was awarded the main accolade, the Sustainable Packaging Excellence Award, for its work to optimise 99% of packaging for material efficiency by converting to a renewable packaging format along with the continued application of the Australasian Recycling Label on the company’s packaging. The company now has more than 75% of their packaging labelled as recyclable through the Australian kerbside or REDcycle system. 

BioPak founder Richard Fine was awarded the coveted Sustainability Champion Award in recognition of his tireless work championing compostable packaging and driving progress towards both the National Packaging Targets and the National Food Waste Strategy Targets. 

Meanwhile, the Our Packaging Future (OPF) Awards, which celebrate projects and initiatives designed specifically to help Australia reach the 2025 National Packaging Targets, acknowledged several well-known companies among its winners.  

Nestlé Australia was awarded both the OPF Award for end-market leadership, for Australia’s first chemically recycled content soft food wrapper and the OPF Award for sustainability education (for consumers) for the KitKat “Give the Planet a Break” recycling campaign.  

BioPak was awarded the OPF Award for Improved Collection and Recycling Systems for Compost Connect, a food service focused organic recycling initiative and online platform.  

Coles was recognised in the OPF Award for sustainability education (for industry) for its packaging data project across the Coles Own Brand supplier base. 

Other award recipients included Beacon Lighting (Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Packaging Operations). Beacon has fully optimised its distribution packaging and no longer uses any outer packaging on products that are shipped to Australia from overseas suppliers. Returnable wooden pallets are now in place for store deliveries and large commercial shipments.  

Austcor was also recognised (Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Packaging Outcomes), which has successfully optimised all of its packaging by developing stronger boxes with light-weighted paper, and CHEP Australia (Outstanding Achievement in Leadership), for increasing the uptake of the company’s ‘Share and Reuse’ circular packaging solutions. This has saved over 120 tonnes of carbon emissions through transportation optimisation, increasing pallet stacks, maximising loads and re-routing its journeys.

APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly comments: “Each and every finalist recognised here has demonstrated strong leadership and innovation over the last twelve months and we’ve witnessed many success stories that highlight the very essence of what Australia needs to achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets – collaboration.  

“It’s fantastic to see APCO’s Members continue to deliver such impressive initiatives as we all work together to achieve a circular economy for packaging in Australia.” 

2021 award winners

Industry Sector award winners 

  • Agriculture & Nurseries – Evergreen Garden Care Australia 
  • Airline, accommodation and tourism – Virgin Australia 
  • Chemicals, Hardware and Machinery – General Motors Australia 
  • Electronics – Kyocera Document Solutions 
  • Food and Beverage – Kellogg Australia 
  • General Merchandise and Apparel – 3M Australia 
  • Healthcare and Scientific – Amgen Australia 
  • Large Retailer – Coles 
  • Logistics and Warehousing – CHEP Australia 
  • Packaging Manufacturers and Suppliers – Lyondell Basell 
  • Telecommunications – Optus 
  • Tobacco – British American Tobacco. 

Outstanding Achievement Awards 

  • Outstanding Achievement in Industry Leadership – CHEP Australia 
  • Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Packaging Outcomes – Austcor 
  • Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Packaging Operations – Beacon Lighting 
  • High Performing New Member Award – Arcadian Organic & Natural Meat Co. 

Our Packaging Future Awards 

  • Our Packaging Future Award for end-market leadership – Nestlé Australia 
  • Our Packaging Future Award for Improved Collection and Recycling Systems – BioPak 
  • Our Packaging Future Award for Packaging Sustainability Education – Consumer Education – Nestlé Australia 
  • Our Packaging Future Award for Packaging Sustainability Education – Industry Education – Coles.  

APCO Sustainability Champion Award 

  • Richard Fine, BioPak. 

Sustainable Packaging Excellence Award 

  • Kellogg Australia.

Coles commended as leading large retailer

Coles Chief Sustainability, Property and Export Officer Thinus Keevé says he was delighted Coles’ commitment to sustainability had been recognised as it continues to work towards its ambition to become “Australia’s most sustainable supermarket.”

“Coles’ Together to Zero and Better Together ambitions, as outlined in our Sustainability Strategy, underpin the steps we are taking to drive generational sustainability,” he said.

“We are on our sustainable packaging journey as we work towards our Together to zero waste ambition, with 87% Coles Own Brand and Coles Own Liquor Brand primary packaging now recyclable.

“Coles’ target is that by 2025 or earlier, all Coles Own Brand and Coles Own Liquor Brand packaging in Australia will be 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable, include an average of 50% recycled content, and carry the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL), while phasing out problematic unnecessary single-use plastic,” Mr Keevé said.

Coles also celebrates the 10-year anniversary of its partnership with soft plastics recycling organisation REDcycle this year.

“We recognise the role we have to play but know that we cannot do this alone, and that we need to work together with our many stakeholders to drive positive change. We know that we are Better Together when we work together with our team members, farmers, suppliers, customers and the communities we serve,” Mr Keevé said.

“While sustainability issues are dynamic and evolving, and there is still much to do, we are committed to maintaining momentum on our sustainability journey.”

Coles General Manager Own Brand, Quality and Responsible Sourcing Brad Cook says he was delighted Coles was once again recognised by APCO as a leading large retailer for its work on sustainable packaging initiatives.

“We are continuing to work collaboratively with our suppliers and team members to improve the recyclability of our Coles Own Brand product packaging, and to phase-out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging,” he said.

“We will continue to help customers understand how to dispose of their packaging by incorporating the ARL, which is now on over 3,500 products.

“In addition to supporting the 2025 National Packaging Targets, this year we were pleased to be a founding member of the ANZPAC Plastics Pact (ANZPAC) which was launched in May 2021 and the Australian Dairy Sustainable Packaging Roadmap launched in October 2021.”

Last week, Coles was recognised as part of Keep Victoria Beautiful Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns awards. In the Waste Awards category, the Horsham Tidy Towns Committee was highly commended for the Polyrok initiative which saw soft plastics collected by REDcycle recycled into building materials used to construct the carpark at Coles Horsham.

The Coles Horsham carpark was the first commercial construction project in Australia to make use of Polyrok – a sustainable alternative to aggregate minerals used in concrete, such as stone.

The latest awards come as the World Benchmarking Alliance recently ranked Coles number two out of 62 food retailers globally in the 2021 Food and Agriculture Benchmark.

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