Greenlife Industry Australia has partnered with Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) to establish the PoPPr Program - a national recovery program for Polypropylene Plant Packaging, including plant pots, trays, tags and stakes.
Through the partnership and with support from allied organisations including Horticulture Innovation and the Landscape Association, we work closely with the industry nationally for the design and implementation of an industry-endorsed network of collection points for plant packaging. This will enable Australians to return their plant packaging for recycling into new plant packaging and close the loop on horticultural Polypropylene.
Despite being readily and repeatedly recyclable, Polypropylene (PP) packaging is currently being down-cycled or lost through existing kerbside municipal solid waste (MSW) collections. The Polypropylene Plant Packaging Recycling (PoPPr) Program will increase material circularity of PP used in the packaging of Australian horticulture products - pots, stakes, tags, and trays. Circularity will be achieved through the design and implementation of a national, industry-led Product Stewardship scheme, enabled through a network of accessible drop-off / collection points and supported by the Greenlife and affiliated industries across Australia. The collection network will enable the easy return of PP plant packaging, creating a source-separated, uncontaminated supply of PP for reprocessing into new horticulture packaging, retaining the material at its highest value in the marketplace, building a sustainable end market for recycled PP and diverting significant volumes of plastic packaging from landfill or sub- optimal uses.
What do we do with the pots? Sector surveys have closed.
SRU Consulting, the organisation contracted by APCO under the joint federally funded product stewardship project with APCO and GIA; developing the PoPPr Program business case, has recently concluded stakeholder engagement. The engagement activities included interviews with greenlife growers and retailers, plastics manufacturers, processers and recovery facilities to consider the case for a recycled plant pot program.
'What do we do with the pots' surveys for home gardeners, landscapers, retailers and growers have not closed, with the information provided helping to inform the recommendations for a national plant packaging (pots, labels, stakes etc) recycling scheme.
The business case is due for release in late June 2021.
On February 16th 2021, APCO and GIA hosted a follow up working group meeting, to update the Sustainable Packaging in Horticulture (SPIH) Working Group members on progress with the National Polypropylene Plant Packaging Recycling Program and seek feedback on the next steps.
The session was convened with three key objectives:
1. PoPPr Program Update
2. Stakeholder Mapping Review
3. New Working Group ideas
On November 24th, APCO and GIA hosted a short interim workshop, to update the Sustainable Packaging in Horticulture (SPIH) Working Group members on progress with the National Polypropylene Plant Packaging Recycling Program and seek feedback on the next steps in the project.
The session was convened with three key objectives:
1. Report back on the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund Grant confirmation
2. Review the naming / branding of the PoPPr Program
3. Revisit the amended Packaging Value Chain map developed at the October workshop and assign a summer ‘homework’ task for Working Group Members
Following on from the June workshop, on 13 October the second industry wide discussion striving to establish a national recovery and recycling program for Polypropylene (PP5) was hosted online by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO).
Supported by Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA), the workshop was attended by over 50 representatives from the horticultural packaging value chain. Stakeholders included representatives from Garden City Plastics, Immj and Astron as well as interested government departments, participants met to consider Sustainable Packaging in Horticulture and discuss a sector-specific approach to address packaging sustainability challenges particular to the Australian nursery industry.
Together the workshops have successfully established a collaborative forum in which to progress work to identify those resource recovery challenges unique to the sector and create a strategic approach to developing solutions.
Framed around an initiative to establish an industry-wide recycling scheme for Polypropylene plant packaging, the October workshop was broken down into an overview, which recapped the outcomes of the June workshop and provided an update in activities since, which includes a joint APCO/GIA application for funding to the National Product Stewardship Fund to support the activities. The workshop then moved into to smaller working groups designed to consider the next steps in developing an on-going sector-based work program and business case to driving action and improve packaging sustainability across the horticultural packaging landscape.
On Friday 19 June, over 60 industry stakeholders attended the first industry-wide workshop on sustainable packaging in horticulture.
The workshop, which was successfully conducted via Zoom facilitation was jointly hosted by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), Garden City Plastics (GCP) and Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA). It was a follow up from the session on sustainable packaging conducted at the GIA Conference in Perth in March.
Participants were provided with an overview of the packaging issue for Australia and heard about the challenges for the industry in relation to collection and sorting of PP5, as previously covered in our story on ‘Closing the loop on polypropylene (PP5)’ (by Gabrielle Stannus, 28 May 2020).
The workshop identified an industry goal to increase its use of recycled PP5 from 8,000 tonnes per year to 12,000 tonnes per year, a 50 % increase by 2025.
The discussion identified that while plastic plant pots had been the initial driver for the program, all products made from PP5 including plant labels, trays, stakes and tags across the horticulture supply chain, could be included in the collection plan. During the workshop, it was emphasised that the PP5 recycling scheme was an ‘all of industry’ opportunity to support sustainable packaging in horticulture and open to all industry businesses.
Workshop participants had an opportunity to contribute to the initiative through smaller breakout groups where they were asked to consider the national roll out of the program, identification of resource use and leakage points, and potential for the application of the Australasian Recycling Label (arl.org.au) and ‘Australian Made’ labelling for Australian PP5 plant packaging.
Overall, the workshop was very positive with participants from all sectors of the greenlife industry providing input into the scheme. It was acknowledged that the initiative provided an opportunity for the greenlife industry to maximise the resource recovery potential for PP5 in Australia and support consumer education for pot recycling pathways.