As the peak professional body for packaging education & training in Australasia it is paramount that the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) offers professional designations that are internationally recognised and have the ability to raise the profession of packaging technologists and designers across the globe.
With the 2025 National Packaging Targets significantly shifting the packaging design landscape in Australia, a critical element that is coming up short is truthful and accurate environmental claims on-pack. More than ever consumers are demanding brands to be honest about their sustainability journey including the choice of wording and logos on-pack.
Gone are the days when you could get away with simply writing ‘recyclable’, ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ on pack. The use of statements like the ‘Do the right thing logo’, the Recycle ‘Mobius loop’ logo or the Plastic Identification Codes (PIC 1 to 7) just further confuse the consumer. The 2025 National Packaging Targets are now the perfect opportunity to review all environmental on-pack symbols and wording.
Changing the face of on-pack logos
Next time you are in a grocery store let me encourage you to pick up 6 different products and have a look at all the logos and symbols being used. You will see arrows, numbers, rubbish bins, lots of abbreviations for industry groups and governing bodies and a whole lot of information that in truth means very little to a consumer.
Plastic Identification Code (PIC)
The use of the Plastic Identification Code (PIC), or the symbol of the chasing arrow with a number in the middle, that is seen on most plastic packaging identifies the type of plastic the packaging is made of. For example, PET is classified as 1, HDPE is 2, PVC is 3, LDPE is 4, Polypropylene is 5, Polystyrene is 6 and 7 is Other or mixed plastic types. This voluntary coding system adopted in 1990 assisted the collection, recovery and management of used plastics in Australia. However, to most consumers they think it means they can put the plastic pack into the recycling bin; even if it isn’t a recyclable plastic.
As a packaging technologist, designer or marketer could you honestly say that you know which bin each number should be placed in? Do you know for a fact whether it is actually capable of being recycled through our facilities in this country, or that of your export market? Now imagine how confusing these symbols are to a consumer.
Do The Right Thing logo
The ‘Litterman’ guy has been around for years. You will all know – even if it is subconsciously – the symbol of the man who throws the rubbish in the bin. Whilst he is familiar to consumers ask yourself what does the logo really mean? Does it mean that the product is recyclable or simply that you should be responsible and make sure the product goes in a rubbish bin at the end of life?
The ‘Do the Right Thing’ slogan and symbol was a part of a marketing campaign launched in the 70’s that was intended as a ‘Don’t Litter campaign’. According to Keep Australia Beautiful ‘When the Do The Right Thing campaign was launched, 80% of people recognised the catch phrase and in 2015, only 38% said they knew the phrase.’
So what does the symbol mean in the world of sustainable packaging and to consumers today? Are there more important and less confusing symbols that should be on-pack to ensure that packaging is placed in the right bin at end-of-life?
Confusing claims and wording
Another challenge within the Sustainable Packaging Journey is when brands decide to use words like ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ on-pack. Having packaging that is biodegradable or compostable may seem to be a good environmental initiative but stating this on-pack is often confusing to consumers. If there are no available consumer collection or composting facilities that will accept this type of packaging in the country of sale then this type of wording can be misleading. The AIP has spoken to many people over the last couple of years who naturally assume that if the packaging says it is ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’ that all is right in the world.
The use of the term ‘biodegradable’ also leads consumers to believe that, no matter where disposed, biodegradable packaging will disappear to nothing within a very short period. This can lead the consumer to erroneously believe it is acceptable to litter biodegradable packaging, or that it will solve the ocean plastics issues.
In the same way the use of compostable plastics, which may ‘compost’ (biodegrade by micro-organisms in an oxygen environment), if placed in the right composting environment, can be very misleading if consumers don’t have access to facilities for the collection and composting of compostable packaging with organic waste. Incidentally the packaging may compost, but they do not create compost (nutrient rich soil).
Before selecting compostable packaging, a responsible brand should be identifying whether there are facilities available to their consumers to collect compostable packaging with their organic waste. If there are, then communicate this information on-pack so consumers understand the end-of-life process.
There are two other options currently available for use of compostable packaging.
- The first being to establish ‘closed loop facilities’ for the collection of compostable materials and certified packaging. These closed loop systems are designed to facilitate the collection and recycling of nutrient rich organic material, such as food scraps along with the certified compostable packaging and return the nutrients into the soil rather than allowing them to rot away in landfill.
- The second option is to identify home compostable certified packaging and encourage the consumer to dispose of via their home composting. The concern with this option, however, is that many consumers will either contaminate the recycling system with this packaging or think they are doing the right thing and put it in the rubbish bin.
The Australian Bioplastics Association (ABA) provides a voluntary system to companies or individuals wishing to have their compostable and biodegradable plastics packaging certified. There are two certifications available. Australian Standard 4736-2006, compostable and biodegradable plastics – ‘Biodegradable plastics suitable for composting and other microbial treatment’ and Australian Standard AS 5810-2010 Home Composting – ‘Biodegradable plastics suitable for home composting’.
Recyclable Symbols and Logos
There are so many variants of a recyclable logo or symbol that it makes your head spin and once again consumers see these types of symbols on pack and naturally presume that they mean that the packaging is going to be recycled if placed in the correct bin. The question that now needs to be asked is ‘can this packaging truly be recycled in the country we sell the product in?’ The answer needs to determine the logos you use on-pack moving forward. Brands need to be re-designing their on-pack communication with honesty, clarity and clear and easy-to-understand explanations.
So where to from here?
In April 2018, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) launched a nationwide labelling scheme that will help consumers better understand how to recycle products effectively and assist brand owners to design packaging that is recyclable at end-of-life. In conjunction with partners, Planet Ark and PREP Design, this scheme aims to increase recycling and recovery rates and contribute to cleaner recycling streams.
The APCO Packaging Recycling Label Program is a nation-wide labelling program that provides designers and brand owners with the tools to inform responsible packaging design and helps consumers to understand how to correctly dispose of packaging. The two elements of the program are the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) and the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL).
Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP)
PREP provides a way for brand owners, manufacturers and designers to assess whether an item of packaging could be classified as ‘recyclable’ through kerbside collection in Australian and New Zealand. PREP produces a report for each ‘project’ that is evaluated. A project will list the recyclability classification for each ‘separable component’ plus the user may nominate a scenario where the separable components are joined at the time of disposal (e.g. bottle and cap). Combining technical recyclability and collection coverage, PREP provides the evidence base for applying the Australasian Recycling Label on-pack.
Australasian Recycling Label (ARL)
The Australasia Recycling Label (ARL) is an evidence-based, standardised labelling system that provides clear and consistent on-pack recycling information to inform consumers of the correct disposal method. The ARL is designed to be used in conjunction with PREP, which informs the user of the correct on-pack ARL artwork for each ‘separable component’ of packaging. It is a simple and effective method to improve consumer recycling behaviours.
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) have also developed a number of training courses that will greatly assist your Sustainable Packaging journey including ‘Tools to Help you Meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets: PREP and ARL’, ‘Introduction to Sustainable Packaging Design’, ‘Lifecycle Assessment Tools for Sustainable Packaging Design‘ and ‘The Future of bioplastics and compostable packaging’.
With the development of the 2025 National Packaging Targets now is the time to stop and review all of your on-pack information to ensure that you are communicating effectively and honestly to consumers about your sustainable packaging.
Nerida Kelton MAIP
Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP)
All too often Accessible Packaging is not considered when designing products which in turn leads to unnecessary frustration when opening & closing packs, reading the ingredients and opening instructions on packaging. It is important that Packaging Technologists consider how their packaging design could affect someone’s ability to eat, drink and the flow on of wasting food.
Entries now open for PIDA awards 2020
Entries are now open until 14 February for the 2020 Australasian Packaging & Innovation Awards for Australia and New Zealand. The AIP, in conjunction with Packaging New Zealand, have designed the PIDA awards to recognise companies and individuals who are making a significant difference in their field in Australia and New Zealand.
As the peak professional body for packaging education and training in Australasia the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) is often asked to simply provide a list of the exact substrates and materials that should be selected for every product on the market to meet the sustainable packaging targets. The answer unfortunately is never that simple.
The AIP is pleased to advise that the Semester 1 intake is now open for 2020 Master of Food & Packaging Innovation with applications closing 30 November 2019. The Master of Food and Packaging Innovation is an inter-disciplinary degree that explores food processing, entrepreneurship and innovation in product and packaging design at an advanced level.
Mindsets have shifted over the last few years and globally consumers are now actively driving brands and their packaging departments to align their Sustainable Packaging Design to incorporate the 5R’s and to redesign with environmental impacts in mind. Packaging Technologists are being asked to re-consider the outcomes of their packaging design all the way across the supply chain.
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP); the peak professional body for packaging education and training in Australasia; is pleased to once again be joining the official partner program for PACK EXPO Las Vegas and co-located Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2019 (Sept. 23-25, 2019; Las Vegas Convention Centre).
Pierre Pienaar, Education Director for the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and President of the World Packaging Organisation (WPO), recently received an appointment as Professor to the Sichuan University in Chengdu, China. Chengdu is the fourth largest city in China with a population of 17 million and is the capital of Sichuan Province.
Three Australian companies and one New Zealand company have achieved international recognition for their innovative and unique packaging designs in the prestigious WorldStar Packaging Awards for 2019. The winning companies include Caps and Closures for Precise Pour, ILNAM Estate for 8 Kangaroos, Lactote for POLATOTE and Radix Nutrition for their Foil Packaging Breakfast Pouch and were across three categories, Beverage, Food and Domestic & Household.
On-pack date related label is one of the most direct information carriers used in food industry to communicate specific product attributes with consumers. On one hand, it is regarded as an effective tool which can help consumers to make informed consumption decisions. However, on the other hand, it has been identified as one of the major factors that contributes to the problem of consumer food waste.
Winners announced for 2019 Australasian Packaging Innovation & Design Awards
The winners of the 2019 Australasian Packaging Innovation & Design Awards (PIDA) for Australia and New Zealand were announced at a gala dinner on the 30th of April at the SOFITEL Wentworth, Sydney. The PIDA Awards are the exclusive feeder program for the prestigious WorldStar Packaging Awards run by the World Packaging Organisation (WPO) with the 2019 PIDA winners automatically eligible for entry into the 2020 international competition.
Finalists announced for 2019 Australasian Packaging Innovation & Design Awards
Finalists have been announced for the 2019 Australasian Packaging Innovation & Design Awards (PIDA) which has been designed to recognise companies and individuals who are making a significant difference in their field across Australia and New Zealand.
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) has announced the winner of the tenth annual APPMA Scholarship program that entitles one lucky person to receive entry into a Diploma in Packaging Technology valued at $9,000. The winner is Janell Siek who sees that packaging is perhaps the most hard-working component of any product found in the retail space.
The use of life cycle assessment tools for sustainable packaging design
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) has created a new training course on ‘The use of Life cycle Assessment Tools for Sustainable Packaging Design’. This is aimed at providing an introduction and learning framework for packaging industry professionals to apply lifecycle thinking to their working contexts and includes an understanding of the reasons why lifecycle thinking is critical.
AIP announces finalists for 2019 AOONA scholarship
The Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA), in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), are pleased to announce that there are three finalists for the tenth annual Scholarship program which will enable one lucky packaging technologist, designer or engineer in Australia the opportunity to complete a Diploma in Packaging Technology to the value of $9,000. The Diploma in Packaging Technology is a Level 5 qualification which is internationally recognised.
2019 AIP National Technical Forum Registrations are now open
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) confirms that on the 30th of April all of industry will have the opportunity to attend not one packaging educational event, but three. Starting the day with a Women in Packaging breakfast, followed by the biennial AIP National Technical Forum, then finishing with the gala Australasian Packaging & Innovation Design Awards dinner - this is a must-attend.
WPO Lifetime Achievement Award - Keith Chessell FAIP
The Australian Institute of Packaging is pleased to advise that one of its Life Members Keith Chessell FAIP has been recognised for his significant contribution to the packaging industry over the last 50 years with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Packaging Organisation.
2019 APPMA Scholarship now open: applications close 22 February 2019
The Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Packaging, are pleased to announce that submissions are open for the tenth annual Scholarship program which will enable one lucky packaging technologist, designer or engineer in Australia the opportunity to complete a Diploma in Packaging Technology to the value of $9,000.
PIDA awards introduce new special award category for accessible packaging design
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and Packaging New Zealand are pleased to introduce a new Accessible Packaging Design category to the annual Packaging Innovation & Design Awards program. The Accessible Packaging Design Special Award is designed to recognise packaging that is accessible, intuitive, easy-to-open and innovative and is in partnership with Arthritis Australia and Arthritis New Zealand.
AIP helps educate Philippines packaging community
The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) recently ran 3 new educational seminars on packaging for over 600 people at the inaugural ProPak Philippines trade show. Powered by ProPak Asia, ProPak Philippines was truly the first-of-its-kind food, drink and pharmaceutical focused international trade exhibition for the regions rapidly expanding processing & packaging industries.
One of the core objectives of the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) is to ensure that individuals are recognised for their significant contributions to the packaging industry. Dr Carol Kilcullen-Lawrence PhD, FAIP, CPP, National President of the AIP had the opportunity at the gala awards night on the 2 May to present five AIP Special Awards. The AIP Special Awards are not given often and are designed to recognise inspirational individuals who have contributed significantly to the packaging industry over many years.
2019 Packaging New Zealand Scholarship now open
Packaging New Zealand are pleased to announce that entries are now open for their annual Scholarship program for 2019. The annual Packaging Scholarship enables one lucky packaging technologist, designer or engineer in New Zealand the opportunity to complete a Diploma in Packaging Technology to the value of $9,000. The Diploma of Packaging Technology is offered through the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP); the peak professional body for packaging education and training in Australasia.
Australia & NZ Packaging Innovations recognised in 2019 Worldstar Packaging Awards
Three Australian companies and one New Zealand company have achieved international recognition for their innovative and unique packaging designs in the prestigious WorldStar Packaging Awards. The winning companies include Caps and Closures for Precise Pour, ILNAM Estate for 8 Kangaroos, Lactote for POLATOTE and Radix Nutrition for their Foil Packaging Breakfast Pouch and were across three categories.
2018 AIP Year in Review
With 2018 nearing an end, it is time to reflect on what was one of the most successful and action-packed years the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) has ever had in its 55-year history. We started the year by hosting the 2018 AIP National Conference, 2018 Packaging Innovation & Design Awards, 2018 WorldStar Packaging Awards, the 100th World Packaging Organisation Board Meeting and the inaugural Women in Industry Forum and we just kept going for the rest of the year. We have tried to highlight some of the key events and initiatives that the AIP undertook this year in this our final newsletter for 2018.
- Jo Webb
- Company News
- Created 11 Dec 2019
- Modified 09 Dec 2019
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