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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

9 October 2000

Rural and Regional organisations encouraged to lead the fight on 'smarter' packaging

Forty years ago, a paper bag was all that came between you and the fruit, meat and groceries, lugged home from the local store. Today, packaging is a huge industry - with two or three layers often enclosing individually packaged portions! It has all gone too far according to Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage.

"As much as 21 million tonnes of waste material goes into landfill each year in Australia from our homes, business and industry. By using smarter packaging, Australia's rural and regional industries can help the fight to create less waste and a cleaner environment", Sharman Stone said.

"The 'National Packaging Covenant' is a new initiative designed to reduce the amount of packaging waste currently generated in Australia. By finding ways to reuse and recycle ordinary, every-day waste material we can reduce demand for more landfill sites and for natural resources."

Dr Stone said that Government and industry had joined forces find more markets for recycled materials.

"The Covenant promotes smarter packaging to minimise the use of materials, more efficient kerbside recycling and the better use of recycled material. A $34.9m joint business and government fund will help stimulate research and develop new recycling systems."

Retail giant Coles-Myer are the latest to have committed to boost their environmental recycling beyond the 70,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard and millions of plastic bags that they presently recycle through their supermarkets each year. So far, the National Packaging Covenant has 110 signatories and is growing by the week.

"We are particularly encouraging rural and regional local government and businesses to sign the Covenant and work towards its aims", Sharman Stone said.

"Already, the Local Government Associations of Victoria and Queensland have signed up."

The National Packaging Covenant was a voluntary agreement between Government and business, with participants encouraged to:

"By working together, Government, business and the community can find ways to re-use and recycle waste, improving our environment and saving money and resources at the same time".

"Small businesses are now being targeted for the National Packaging Covenant. The Commonwealth has introduced a new initiative that links small businesses with industry associations and larger organisations (mentors) to help them participate in a cost effective manner. If you are a small business wanting to do the right thing or are interested in being a Covenant Mentor, you can phone Tara Harris on 1800 803 772 or check out the website at, Sharman Stone said.

*Attached is a breakdown of industry sectors and the market share of the covenant signatories. - marketshare.pdf

Media Inquiries:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468 or 02 6277 2016
October 9th 2000

Commonwealth of Australia