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

1 July 2005

New national recycling rate set


Federal and state environment ministers today agreed to a national packaging recycling rate of 65 per cent by 2010.

The current rate is 48 per cent.

The Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, who chaired the EPHC meeting in Perth, said the new target was challenging but realistic.

"Achieving the target will require all levels of government and industry to work hard together," Senator Campbell said.

"This includes companies in the packaging supply chain, waste collectors and recyclers."

The recycling target is the key feature of the National Packaging Covenant, which the Council agreed to extend for another five years.

Brand owners who choose not to join the Covenant will be required by law to take back and recycle their packaging.

"This measure will ensure voluntary action is backed with legislation that sends a clear message to companies that don't meet their obligations," Senator Campbell said.

"A new threshold for small businesses will also be developed this year so that those businesses that produce only small amounts of waste are not affected by the new reporting requirements."

The Council also agreed to continue its existing strategy to phase out lightweight plastic bags by the end of 2008.

Senator Campbell said the use of plastic bags had been reduced from an annual usage rate of about six billion bags in 2002 to around 4.8 billion in 2004.

"This is a very good result, especially by the major supermarkets which have cut their usage in the past year by 27 per cent," Senator Campbell said.

"Their target this year is to repeat that effort and come in at an overall 50 per cent reduction on 2002 levels."

Further information on the government's approach waste is available at www.deh.gov.au/settlements/waste/index.html
Further information about the EPHC is available at www.ephc.gov.au

Media Contact:
Marianne McCabe 02 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580

Commonwealth of Australia