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Packaging waste obligations in Australia and New Zealand

Roxanna Filetoth
Jul 28, 2020

Australia and New Zealand, although over 9,000 miles away, are prime markets for producers and distance sellers. Roxana Filetoth, Valpak’s International Compliance Lead, discusses the obligations different companies might face.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems for packaging waste have very similar provisions in Australia to those in Europe, as Australian states and territories have principal responsibility for the environment, and several states have adopted product stewardship policies for packaging waste.

In New Zealand, EPR Regulations and implementation are also fragmented; however, there are some schemes that incorporate EPR policies that could be classed as a form of product stewardship, even though participation is often voluntary.


The regulatory base is set out in the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM). This obligates companies who sell or produce packaged goods to come up with ways to design more recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging. It also underpins the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s work, which is to promote shared responsibility, recycling and circular economy.

Obligated companies are the brand owners who have an annual turnover exceeding AUD 5 million in a year. Those below the threshold can join the Covenant voluntarily.

Australia has very ambitious targets when it comes to packaging recycling and recyclability. By 2025 their goal is for 100% of packaging entering the Australian market to be recyclable, reusable or compostable. On top of that, 70% of plastic packaging should be recycled, reused or composted and an average of 50% recycled content to be included across all packaging. Problematic and unnecessary single used plastic packaging will eventually be phased out.

New Zealand

Australia’s neighbour is also busy implementing the regulatory framework and legislation for Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility; however, there have been several delays.

The Waste Minimisation Act came into force in 2008 and encourages the reduction of the amount of waste placed on the New Zealand market. The act also requires Product Stewardship schemes to be developed for certain priority products, such as electrical products or packaging, where there is a high risk of environmental harm from the waste or significant benefits from recovering the product.

In addition, the Act allows for regulations to be made to control the disposal of products, materials or waste, require take-back services, deposit fees or specific labelling of products. All Environmental claims must be printed on the packaging prior to release of the products and cannot be done retrospectively. All environmental claims must be accurate, scientifically sound and substantiated.

Packaging New Zealand helps companies understand their packaging better and represents all members of the packaging industry. They can also advise companies on packaging design. Although, a legal framework for packaging waste is still rudimentary, we are expecting change to happen soon with the introduction of obligations on producers, product stewardship and a container deposit return system.

Valpak International Compliance Service

If your business is affected by environmental legislation overseas, we will remove the administrative and resource intensive burden of complying and have a range of services that can be tailored to suit your business’s needs.

To find out more about international environmental legislation and how we can help please call us on 03450 682 572 or complete our online enquiry form.


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this weblog represent those of the individual authors and not those of Valpak Limited or any other organisation.