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Packed out Packaging Accord Seminar

15th April 2008

Packed out Packaging Accord Seminar

Unprecedented interest in the progress and future of the Packaging Accord (2004) saw a packed audience gather this morning to hear the Hon. Trevor Mallard, Minister for the Environment deliver his address to the Accord’s first conference, which attracted 150 delegates from 70 organisations.

The New Zealand Packaging Accord was a world first. When it was signed in 2004 it was the first voluntary agreement on packaging in the world which brought together local and central government; recycling operators; packaging manufacturers; brand owners and retailers as equal partners in an agreed voluntary commitment to reduce packaging waste.

Since the Accord was signed, much has changed. The Government has put sustainability at the centre of its policy making; the legislative landscape is changing; markets for recycled products have opened up and consumers are now firmly in the camp that green is the new black.

Paul Curtis, Executive Director of the Packaging Council NZ said that the seminar’s timeliness has been part of its attraction:

“This is the first opportunity for the Minister for the Environment to talk publicly about the Select Committee’s report back on the Waste Minimisation Bill. Ultimately all Accord parties know that the devil is in the detail. At this stage we don’t know which products are to be considered for the priority product list so it’s still a waiting game.”

“Given the enormous success of the Packaging Accord as evidenced by the number of people here today and the provision within the Bill for voluntary product stewardship schemes which are meeting their targets to be given accreditation, we are keen to see the Packaging Accord be the first scheme off the block under the new legislation. By anybody’s standards we are achieving results…”

“Speakers from a broad spectrum of industry confirm that packaging is now an integral part of every company's environmental image. It tells a story about how committed brands are in reducing the impact which they have on the planet. That packaging manufacturers, retailers, brand owners and recycling operators agree that legislation such as Container Deposit taxes is not economically or environmentally beneficial shows how the Accord process has brought disparate views together.”

The NZ Packaging recycling rate last year was 57% representing a 20% increase on the previous year which is up there with the rest of the world. Europe has an aggregated rate of 60% and Australia has a similar rate to NZ at 56%.

Tony Nowell Chair of the Packaging Accord will conclude with a challenge to industry and local and central government to continue to raise their game:-

“The packaging sector has a proven track record; each sector will meet or beat its recycling targets and is under no illusion that getting a 3rd Accord signed will need us to raise our game even further. Industry is under no illusion that it has a year and a half to prove to local and central government that it is making packaging decisions that maximise recyclability; help develop new recycling markets; and incorporate recycling messages as part of its marketing.”

“However this is a joint challenge because, as a net importer of packaged goods, materials which are recyclable overseas may not be collected for recycling in New Zealand. So local and central government have a reciprocal responsibility to ensure that people know where, what and how to recycle and to encourage new markets for recycling. The Government's proposed public place recycling and the decision by Auckland and Manukau councils to build Australasia's most high tech Materials Recovery Facility will assist in this process.”

Mr Nowell will remind delegates that at a time when fuel, food and energy costs are spiraling; increased costs are being proposed through emissions trading schemes and a waste levy, the voluntary Packaging Accord delivers the best economic and environmental solution for New Zealand.


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