Update on New Zealand Kerbside Standardisation

As of 1 February, ARL users should refer to the NZ kerbside implementation guide for the ARL program when conducting PREP assessments for projects in the NZ region. This document is intended to highlight the areas of difference and similarity between PREP assessments and the gazette at this point in time, and support organisations with correctly applying the ARL in NZ.

The ARL Team are currently working on the next round of PREP updates to align the platform with the requirements of the gazette. These will include updating outcomes associated with:

• Packaging that has either steel or aluminium as a primary material – e.g. steel and aluminium aerosol cans, aluminium foil and trays classified as Not Recyclable
• The recyclability of lids, caps and closures, which are Not Recyclable under the gazette
• Undersized 2D packaging – i.e. items that PREP determines to be 2-dimensional and do not meet the minimum size requirement of 100x140mm, will receive a Not Recyclable outcome as per the gazette.

We expect these updates to be available in PREP by the end of March, and will keep all stakeholders updated accordingly.

Approach to rigid fitments and attachments on soft plastics (AUS only)

Following updates for Australian soft plastics thresholds for in July 2023, the ARL Team has been reviewing the approach to assessing and labelling soft plastic formats that have rigid fitments and attachments – e.g. spouts, caps, zips.
Under the previous REDcycle program, organisations with relevant formats were requested to confirm acceptance with REDcycle in order to correctly assess and label the packaging. The ARL have sought feedback from existing soft plastic collection and recycling programs and associated reprocessors, and confirm that the current approach for these formats is as follows:

• Soft plastics that meet the Australian thresholds and have polyolefin (i.e. PE or PP) rigid fitments (e.g. spouts) will be permitted to carry the Check locally logo in Australia.
• Polyolefin rigid attachments that are separable components to soft plastic formats (e.g. caps on spouts) will be permitted to be messaged as Conditionally Recyclable, with instructions to leave attached.

Updated Terms & Conditions for the ARL program

• The two sets of terms and conditions for the ARL program will be uploaded to the APCO Member Centre on 15th March, 2024 – this refers to both the Packaging Assessment Tool and ARL Terms & Conditions.
• From this date, organisations who have agreed or re-agreed to the previous T&Cs will be considered as having agreed to the new versions of the terms and conditions. Any organisation joining the program for the first time will have to agree to the new T&Cs.
• The updates to the T&Cs, including the extension of the term of agreement to be 36 months (3 years), have been made in preparation for the launch of the SME ARL Marketplace later this year, and alignment with the Marketplace terms and conditions.

0% Threshold for Other Plastic & Other Material in the PREP Soft Plastics Module (AUS only)

Following a public consultation period and review through APCO’s IRC, the threshold for ‘Other Plastic’ and ‘Other Material’ in the PREP soft plastics module has been updated to 0%. This means that users who are assessing soft plastics with laminates / materials that do not have a corresponding selection in the primary polymer or secondary material drop-downs, will need to select either ‘Other Plastic’ or Other Material’, which will trigger a Not Recyclable outcome.

Additionally, based on feedback received during the consultation period, the committee decided that the following copolymers, currently not selectable in PREP will be placed under review pending a threshold and approach for their inclusion in soft plastics being established:

• Ionomer copolymer
• Polybutene

This decision has also prompted the ARL Team to investigate how to include an assessment of oxo-degradable or fragmentable plastics in PREP, as these were also confirmed to be accepted at a 0% threshold for soft plastics. We will be scoping the approach for this update in PREP, which may involve a new question asking users if any additives (e.g. PFAS, oxo-degradable additives, etc.,) have been used.

Scoping for the corresponding PREP updates is underway, and we’ll keep all program users updated as to when the changes are live in PREP. Organisations currently using ‘Other Plastic’ or ‘Other Material’ in their soft plastics at any percentage will need to label their formats as ‘Not Recyclable’.

Organisations using any of the polymers listed as Under Review in the above will also need to label their formats as Not Recyclable until such time as thresholds are established, or may wish to not label with the ARL at all at this time.

Where organisations are using Other Plastic or Other Material, or any of the polymers listed under the Under Review list above in their soft plastics formats and have evidence to confirm recyclability (i.e. testing has been conducted against any of the recommended protocols as listed by APCO in the Soft Plastics Submissions process), they may be eligible to make a soft plastics submission.

New Alternative Destination

Simply Cups (AUS only)

Simply Cups, Australia’s largest paper cup recycling program (an initiative by Closed Loop) is now recognised as an Alternative Destination under the ARL. The new Drop off only logo will direct consumers to over 1,500 collection points in Australia.

Reach out to the ARL team for more information on the requirements for your business and your paper cups, if you’d like to display the Drop off only logo on-pack. For more information, visit https://info.apco.org.au/e/920303/2024-02-21/2wcv7m/526203486/h/JwRE7523EP42c_7Pk-hJqG7whm4ZqCSxi8Sx1N0q1Bg.

Food & Beverage Carton Recycling Scheme (NZ only)

Another newly recognised Alternative Destination under the ARL program is the Food and Beverage Carton Recycling Scheme (FBCRS) for New Zealand. Operated by The Packaging Forum, this voluntary program provides sustainable recycling solutions for cartons (and associated separable components). The scheme aims to recycle cartons and associated caps into new products, such as low-carbon building supplies, through processing and recycling partners like saveBOARD.

Participation in the scheme allows users to utilise the new Drop off only logo for eligible cartons, and the Conditionally Recyclable logo with instructions to ‘Leave Attached’ for the associated cap.

For more information on the requirements for your business and your aseptic and gable-top cartons, reach out to the ARL team. For more information, click here.

PREP updates are underway to support organisations assessing paper cups and cartons as eligible to carry the Drop off only logo, and the team will inform all users once these updates are in place.


ARL Reporting Reminder

The ARL Reporting Tool is now open for 2024. All ARL program users must submit an ARL Annual Report by 31 March 2024. Access the tool through the APCO Member Centre and follow the instructions under the ‘Australasian Recycling Label Reporting’ section.

To support our members, we’ve provided two resources: ARL Report data template and ARL Report Support Guide, both available on the Member Centre.

Please note: Even if you did not use the ARL on-pack in calendar year 2023, kindly report this by selecting ‘None’ for Question 1. Report only on the number of SKUs carrying the ARL, not sales data of the SKU.

REDcycle Survey Reminder

The REDcycle survey is due to be completed by all relevant members by 31 March 2024.
Please take a moment to complete the survey here. NOTE: the survey should be completed by the Primary Contact for your organisation. If you have any questions, please contact the ARL team.

This survey, required by the ACCC, will provide 6-monthly updates on Members’ progress in removing REDcycle messaging from soft plastic packaging, by the set deadline of 1 July 2025.

Subsequent surveys are scheduled for:

• Opens 1 July 2024 (for period Dec 1 2023 – 30 June 2024)
• Opens 1 January 2025 (for period 1 July 2024 – 30 December 2024)
• Opens 1 July 2025 (for period 1 January 2025 – 30 June 2025)

Public Comment Period – Proposed Updates

The ARL Team is seeking feedback on the below two proposed updates to PREP and the ARL program for the Australian region ONLY. Public comment is open between 22February – 25March. To provide feedback, please reach out to the ARL team.

1. New bonding type and threshold in PREP to capture blended PE formats – 30% LDPE on HDPE

The ARL team are proposing to include a new bonding type called ‘blended’, specifically for use when completing rigid plastic assessments for formats that are composed of blended polymers – e.g. HDPE squeezy bottles or tubes.

Through consultation with the Rigid Plastics MSC in 2023, the proposal includes a threshold of a maximum of 30% rigid LDPE on rigid HDPE when bonded to HDPE via blending. As the team is not aware of other applications or combinations of blended materials, any other combination of materials will have a 0% threshold.

2. New consumer behaviour submission for paper straws to be placed in liquid paperboard cartons

A brand owner has made a consumer behaviour submission to propose a new instruction to be included in the Conditionally Recyclable ARL. The proposed instruction is ‘Push inside’ and is applicable to paper straws associated with aseptic or gable-top cartons.

For updates on any program changes or submission outcomes, please head to arl.org.au/priority-areas.