Today we commemorate World Environment Day with the theme Time for Nature.
As countries ease lockdowns and economies restart, we are reminded of the importance of protecting our environment through responsible actions. Food Industry Asia (FIA) and the multinational food & beverage brands that we represent and proudly call our members are committed to reducing plastic and packaging waste across Asia through innovation, supporting packaging waste collection and recycling in communities, and engaging and partnering governments and other stakeholders across Asia to fulfil our commitments to make the packaging we put out to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
This is especially important given the impact of Covid-19 (e.g. movement restrictions hampering the ability of the formal and informal waste sectors to collect and process waste) and the slump in oil prices on recycling, a critical actor in achieving circularity and reducing the negative impact of post-consumer plastic and packaging waste on the environment.
We continue to invest in packaging and material innovation to enhance recyclability and material value. For example, Aqua-Danone in Indonesia introduced in 2018 the country’s first mineral water bottle made from 100% recycled PET. First seen in stores in Bali, the company is making the bottle available across Indonesia to raise consumer awareness, which will be key to increasing recycling behaviours and achieving the company target of increasing recycled plastic content to 50% or more by 2025. Increased use of recycled plastic will make possible packaging redesigns over time, until every bottle produced is 100% recyclable.
Another FIA member trialling new packaging formats that could significantly reduce the use of difficult to recycle packaging is Mondelez International. The company which owns the Cadbury brand of chocolates has trialled the use of flow-wrap paper packaging on chocolate tablets in Australia and New Zealand. Made from 100% recyclable paper that acts as the barrier to protect food and ensure freshness, it does away with the use of laminates, foils or plastics.
Here in Singapore, FIA is working with the Economic Development Board, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and several multinational FMCG companies including Nestle, to jointly launch pre-competitive research to accelerate the discovery and production of next generation flexible packaging that is marine-biodegradable.
FIA members continue to support circular economy activities in countries & communities across Asia. Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia just last month announced joint venture plans to build a PET bottle to bottle recycling plant in Indonesia that would reduce the use of new plastic resin by the company by approximately 25,000 tonnes per year in 2022. FIA members also came together to establish the Packaging Recovery Organization (PRO) Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City last June to help enhance packaging collection and recycling, and ensure less of it enters the environment.
FIA will continue to engage governments, NGOs and international organizations on behalf of the industry to build data and information, support the development and implementation of policies that closes the waste loop, and strengthen cooperation and coordination at both national and regional levels.
Building on our study in 2018 on Tackling Plastic & Packaging Waste in Southeast Asia, FIA partnered the United Nations Environment Programme to conduct business and consumer surveys in 5 countries in the region earlier this year to identify and address gaps along the plastic & waste management value chain to help drive focus & actions. Insights from the surveys will be made available from the second half of 2020.
And we are working with Asian food contact material regulators together with partners from other industries to establish a platform for industry-regulator engagements to share best practices with the aim of harmonizing standards and promoting the use of recycled content in food grade packaging.
We will do our part as responsible corporate citizens to put out packaging that protects both the contents it holds and the environment, adopting and adhering to circular economy principles. We cannot achieve this on our own and urge stakeholders across the entire food value chain to work with us to build a better world. Now is not the time to dial back on our sustainability commitments. Instead, we must pursue this path with full rigour.
For FIA and our members, everyday must be a Time for Nature.
Happy World Environment Day 2020!