Your business is likely to have obligations under the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM) if:

  • you meet the requirements to be classed as a brand owner

  • you have an annual turnover of more than $5 million

  • you are in a supply chain that uses packaging or packaged products.

This page is designed to help you work out whether the NEPM applies to your business and what your obligations are.

How to meet your obligations as a liable brand owner

There are two pathways to meet your obligations as a liable brand owner:

  1. Become a signatory to the Australian Packaging Covenant (the Covenant), or
  2. If your head office is in Victoria and you choose not be a signatory, then you must comply with EPA’s Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (the Regulations) for used packaging materials.

EPA supports the national consistency offered by the Covenant and encourages all brand owners to become signatories by joining APCO. As a member of APCO, brand owners have the opportunity to work with their industry to improve the way packaging is being managed in Australia.
APCO also provides members with support to comply with their legal obligations.

Liable brand owners who are not a signatory to the Covenant must report to EPA by 30 September each year as part of the compliance obligations under Part 4.3 of the Regulations. EPA runs an active compliance program to follow up non-signatory brand owners.

Information about the NEPM for used packaging materials

  • Understanding what the NEPM means

    The NEPM establishes a co-regulatory framework for implementing the Australian Packaging Covenant. This scheme is designed to reduce the environmental effects of consumer packaging across Australia. It is supported by the National Waste Policy.

    APCO and State and Territory Governments implement and administer the Covenant. 

    Under the Covenant, brand owners with an annual turnover in Australia of more than $5 million have a duty to minimise the environmental impact of their packaging.

  • What being a signatory to the Covenant means

    Signatories to the Covenant become APCO members where they receive support to comply with reporting requirements under the NEPM.

    APCO supports industry to transform the way packaging is managed in Australia.  

    Brand owner signatories have obligations to comply with the Covenant. These include:

    • submitting and publishing an action plan and annual report, and 
    • implementing policies and procedures for reducing the environmental impacts of used packaging. The APCO website  has more information.

How to work out if your business has obligations under the NEPM

  • Definition of a brand owner

    If the answer is yes to any of the following questions, then your business is likely to be a brand owner. If you are in doubt, you can contact APCO to discuss.

    1. Are you in the supply chain of consumer packaging (see definition below)? For example: an importer, supplier of raw material, manufacturer, wholesaler?
    2. Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler or importer, or do you offer your branded products to consumers (final purchasers of the product, including packaging)?
    3. Are you the owner or licensee in Australia of a trademark under which a product is sold (whether the trade mark is registered or not)?
    4. Are you the owner or licensee in Australia of a trademark that is distributed in the country (whether the trade mark is registered or not)?
    5. Are you a franchisor or franchisee in Australia?
    6. Are you the first person to sell an imported product in Australia?
    7. Are you the supplier of in-store packaging to retailers?
    8. Are you the importer or manufacturer of plastic bags?
    9. Are you a retailer who provides plastic bags to a consumer for the transportation of products purchased by consumers at the point of sale?
    10. Do you sell any product that is packaged?
    11. Is your product delivered or presented to your customer in any type of packaging?
    12. Do you repackage any product to send to your stores, warehouses or other locations?
    13. If you sell large machinery, do you sell parts that are packaged?
    14. Do you deliver your products using protective packaging?
  • What consumer packaging includes

    Consumer packaging includes all packages of any material, or combination of materials, for the containment, protection, marketing or handling of consumer products. This includes distribution packaging in business-to-business transactions.

  • Work out your liability

    Your business is likely to be liable if:

    • it is in a supply chain that consumes packaging or packaged products 
    • your annual turnover is more than $5 million.
  • If you only have distribution packaging

    Distribution packaging also ends up in the waste stream. Distribution (or business-to-business) packaging counts as packaging that needs to be addressed. You will need to review your distribution packaging for possible ways to improve sustainability or make other enhancements.

  • If you are a service provider that uses only a small amount of packaging

    You need to address the impact of packaging on the environment even if you don’t use much packaging.  If you are a liable brand owner you must review your packaging and submit an annual report demonstrating the actions taken to meet the sustainable packaging targets.

    APCO assists their members to do this.
  • If you don't have control over your packaging

    Your organisation is responsible for the packaging it is releasing into the Australian market. Although you may not manufacture packaging materials, as a liable brand owner you are  required to review the packaging design with your supply chain. This is to achieve at least 70% recoverable packaging for reuse or recycle.

    By joining APCO you will be able to access assistance and learn from companies similar to yours about what improvements can be made.

About the Environment Protection Regulations 2021

  • The purpose of Part 4.3 — Used packaging materials

    The purpose of Part 4.3 of the Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (the Regulations) is to reduce environmental harm from the disposal of used packaging and to conserve virgin materials.

    In Victoria, Part 4.3 of the Regulations implements the National Environmental Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM).

    The Regulations state the requirements in the reuse and recycling of used packaging materials in accordance with the voluntary strategies in the Covenant.

  • EPA's role

    EPA is Victoria’s independent environmental regulator. We protect the environment and people's health by preventing and reducing harm from pollution and waste. This includes used packaging.

    EPA may undertake audits and take compliance and enforcement action if a brand owner does not meet the requirements set out in the Regulations.

  • Your obligations under the Regulations

    You have obligations under the Regulations if you:

    • are a liable brand owner with a head office in Victoria
    • have an annual turnover of more than $5 million and
    • are not a signatory to the Covenant (i.e. not an APCO member).

    Your business is required to record and report on all consumer packaging materials to EPA.

    As a brand owner, you must ensure the materials used in your packaging are recovered at a rate of at least 70% in each financial year. This is for each of the following material categories that you use:

    • paper and cardboard
    • glass
    • steel
    • aluminium
    • plastics.

    The 70% recovered materials may be: 

    • the packaging that you’re responsible for and/or

    • an equivalent amount of materials that are of the same size and type to the packaging that you’re responsible for

    You must make sure you:

    • reuse or recycle the recovered materials or

    • if that is not possible, the materials are reused or recycled within Australia or

    • if that is not achievable, that the materials are reused or recycled outside of Australia. 

    You must give consumers enough information about how the packaging can be recovered. This includes information about where to take the materials for recycling and how to reuse or recycle the materials.

    You are also required to regularly review the need for your packaging and the design of the packaging. The Sustainable Packaging Guidelines provide assistance in the sustainable design and manufacture of packaging in Australia.

  • Your record keeping and reporting requirements under the Regulations

    As a  liable brand owner, you must record the following information for each packaging material used during a financial year:

    • total weight of material used by material type
    • number of units of packaging by material type
    • total weight of material recovered by material type
    • total weight of recovered material reused and recycled in Australia by material type
    • total weight of recovered material reused and recycled by material type outside Australia 
    • total weight of recovered material disposed of to landfill by material type
    • how consumers have been advised of how packaging is to be recovered.

    Liable brand owners who are not a signatory to the Covenant must report this information to EPA each year by 30 September. Every business is responsible for understanding their liability and reporting requirements.

    For further information, you can contact APCO or email


About brand audits and APCO letters

  • What an APCO letter includes

    You may receive a letter from APCO following one of their brand audits which identifies businesses that are liable under the NEPM.

    As part of a co-regulatory agreement with all Australian governments, APCO will inform you of your packaging obligations and your options to comply with the NEPM.

  • How businesses are chosen for the brand audit

    In 2017, the Government introduced a new brand audit methodology, which promotes fairness across industry sectors to ensure businesses are not competitively disadvantaged.

    During their brand audit, APCO uses a comprehensive measure to determine which businesses are chosen. This includes applying the NEPM ‘brand owner’ definition as the basis for approaching businesses.

  • National packaging regulation reform

    The Australian government has committed to national packaging reform by 2025. The intention of this reform is to strengthen mandatory packaging design laws to reduce environmental impacts caused by packaging. It is in the best interest of brand owners to take strong actions to reduce impacts from their packaging to support Australia’s transition to a circular economy and to prepare for the new robust laws. 

    More information can be found on the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water website.

  • Privacy and commercial confidentiality

    Please note that EPA will maintain the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information, unless:

    • you consent to its release
    • EPA is legally compelled to release it
    • the information is grouped in a way which conceals its source, or
    • it is in the public interest to release it. 

    Information may be shared with our co-regulator APCO to determine compliance. 

Reviewed 21 March 2024