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Media Release
Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

3 December 2004

Ministers step up action to combat packaging waste

Environment Ministers agreed at a meeting of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council today to launch a new assault on packaging waste by setting new, clear targets for industry to achieve by 2008.

The council chairman, Australian Minister for the Environment, Senator Ian Campbell, said the National Packaging Covenant - an agreement between governments and industry to tackle the environmental impacts of packaging waste - had achieved much in its first five years, but more needed to be done.

"I congratulate industry on what's been achieved so far, but frankly our record in how much packaging waste is being sent to landfill is not good enough and needs to be improved," he said.

"I urge governments, industry and NGOs to use the forthcoming consultation package and work together to develop achievable but ambitious targets for the Council to consider in April next year."

Senator Campbell said other proposed changes to strengthen the covenant included the introduction of performance indicators by industry to enable better and more transparent annual reporting and a new governance and compliance regime to ensure that signatories meet their obligations under the Covenant.

"It is proposed that the covenant will be extended by five years, but before that happens we need to know it is going to make a difference. We must make packaging more sustainable," he said.

"It's important to note that the covenant is not just about reducing waste to landfill. It also aims to conserve resources through better design and production processes and to increase the re-use and recycling of used packaging materials."

Senator Campbell said the planned new measures would also include more collection points in public places, offices and industrial sites.

The council also addressed the recycling of common products like car tyres and televisions by the companies that sell them with the release of a discussion paper outlining new ways to support voluntary action by industry.

"Television and tyre producers have asked governments to support planned product stewardship schemes and we welcome their efforts to keep their products out of landfill," Senator Campbell said. "We expect that setting out a clear mechanism to ensure everyone is competing on a level playing field will motivate voluntary action by other industry groups as well."

Media contacts:
Wayne Grant (Senator Campbell) 02 6277 7640 or 0407 845 280

Commonwealth of Australia