The national environmental ministers of Australia have agreed to develop new packaging standards to expedite the country’s transition towards a circular economy.

As part of this, the country will set nationwide minimum recycled content requirements and forbid the use of harmful chemicals in domestic packaging.

A government press release said: “This will make decisions at the checkout much easier for shoppers, who won’t have to spend precious time comparing the environmental credentials of different products.”

Under these national packaging laws, businesses in the country will be held accountable for the 6.7 million tonnes of packaging they are claimed to collectively dispose of into the Australian market.

Ministers also called for a national traceability framework, which they believe will improve customers’ confidence in the use of recycled materials when purchasing recycled products.

The framework is crucial in driving the reuse of recovered plastics, glass, and other materials into new products, the government claimed.

Australian Food and Grocery Council, in a statement, added: “Any increase in the use of recycled content relies on sufficient collection and processing of that material here in Australia.

“Mandatory design standards are essential for a circular economy, but importantly require a recycling system to process the material Australians collect at home.

“Traceability of recycling material will provide confidence for Australians to recycle, brands the confidence to procure recycled content and the broader supply chain the confidence to invest in recycling infrastructure, creating local jobs.”

The states of Western Australia, Queensland, and South Australia already have a ban in place for a range of single-use plastic items. The ban came into effect on 1 September 2023.