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

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

  • you have a turnover of more than $5 million annually

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

This page is designed to help you work out whether or not the NEPM applies to your business and, if so, what your obligations might be.

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 of 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 (Part 4.3).

EPA’s preference is that all brand owners are signatory to the Covenant. This is to ensure a nationally consistent approach. Liable brand owners who are not a signatory to the Covenant must meet compliance obligations under the Regulations.

Liable Brand owners who are not signatory of the Covenant must report  information to EPA annually by the 30 September.  The report must contain the complete list of packaging and reporting requirements set out in  the Regulations. Submit reports to EPA at compliance.reporting@epa.vic.gov.au in Microsoft Word or Adobe format.

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, a  scheme to reduce the environmental effects of consumer packaging across Australia. 

    The Australian Covenant Packaging Organisation (APCO) and State and Territory Governments implement and administer the Covenant. 

    Under the Covenant brand owners with a gross annual income in Australia of more than $5 million  must minimise the environmental impact of their packaging.

  • What being a signatory of the Covenant means

    Businesses that sign the Covenant prepare and implement Waste Action Plans. This is to take responsibility for the environmental impact and disposal of their packaging. The Covenant has a collaborative way to manage  consumer packaging and paper products among:

    • all sectors of the packaging supply chain 

    • consumers 

    • collectors 

    • re-processors 

    • all levels of government. 

    Signatories to the Covenant automatically become members of APCO. APCO, supports industry to steer and transform the way packaging is managed in Australia.  

    Brand owner signatories have obligations to comply with the Covenant. These include but are not limited to:

    • submitting and publishing an action plan and annual report, and 
    • implementing policies and procedures for reducing the environmental impacts of used packaging. APCO 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 a brand owner. If you are in doubt, we suggest you 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?
  • Work out your liability

    Your business is liable if:

    • it is in a supply chain that consumes packaging or packaged products (refer to infographic on page 4 of the covenant)
    • your annual turnover is $5 million or more.
  • What consumer packaging includes

    Consumer packaging is 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.

  • When you only have distribution packaging

    Distribution packaging also ends up in the waste stream. Distribution/B2B 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 efficiencies.

  • When more than half of your business is service and only 10% of your business has packaging

    You must address the impact of the packaging on the environment even if you don’t use much packaging. You still need to review and make sure it is efficient.
  • When you don't have control over your packaging

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

About the Environment Protection Regulations 2021

  • The purpose of Part 4.3 — Used packaging materials

    Part 4.3 of the Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (the Regulations) implements the National Environmental Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM) in Victoria. The goals are to reduce environmental harm from the disposal of used packaging and to conserve virgin materials.

    The Regulations encourage the reuse and recycling of used packaging materials in the voluntary strategies in the Australian Packaging Covenant (the Covenant).

    The Regulations ensure that signatories to the Australian Packaging Covenant are not competitively disadvantaged by meeting their commitments under the Covenant.

  • EPA's role in the Regulations for used packaging

    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 regulates used packaging through Part 4.3 of the Regulations. The Regulations are how the National Environment Protection Measure (Used Packaging Materials) is implemented in Victoria. EPA may undertake audits and take compliance and enforcement action if a brand owner does not meet any of the requirements in the Regulations.

  • Your obligations under the Regulations

    If you are a brand owner with your head office in Victoria, have an annual gross income of more than $5 million and you are not a signatory of the Covenant, then you must comply with the Regulations.

    Your business is required to meet recording and reporting requirements for all consumer packaging materials.

    As a brand owner, you must make sure the materials used in packaging you’re responsible for are recovered at a rate of at least 70% in each financial year. This is for each category of material that you use. The categories of material are:

    • 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 substantially 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 practicable, the materials are reused or recycled within Australia or

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

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

    You must make sure you regularly review the need for packaging and the design of the packaging.

  • Your record keeping and reporting requirements under the Regulations

    As an eligible brand owner, you must record this information for each packaging material used during each financial year:

    • Total weight of material used by material type.
    • Number of units of packaging by unit and material type.
    • Total weight of material recovered by material type.
    • Total weight of recovered material re-used and recycled in Australia by material type.
    • Total weight of recovered material re-used and recycled by material type through export.
    • Total kilojoules of embedded energy recovered.
    • Total weight of recovered material disposed of to landfill.
    • How consumers have been advised as to how packaging is to be recovered.

    Liable brand owners who are not signatory of the Covenant must report this information to EPA annually by the 30 September.  A reporting template will be available online in 2022, well before the reporting time of 30 September 2022. This will be for reporting only, you will need to decide what system will be best to for your business to collect all the relevant information through the financial year to support your final report. The reporting template will cover everything required as described in the Environment Protection Regulations 2021. 

    The report must include the complete list of packaging and reporting requirements set out in  the Regulations. Submit reports to EPA by emailing compliance.reporting@epa.vic.gov.au with a Microsoft Word or PDF attachment.

About brand audits and APCO letters

  • What an APCO letter includes

    You may receive a letter as a result of a brand audit by APCO to identify 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 the options to comply with the NEPM.

  • How APCO accesses your information

    APCO provided Dun & Bradstreet (a company that provides commercial data) with a list of ANZSIC codes and purchased a data list of companies that had a recorded turnover of $5M and over. 

    The list of ANZSIC codes provided to Dun & Bradstreet were the same ANZSIC codes of APCO’s current membership base.

  • How businesses are chosen for the brand audit

    The ANZSIC code of your company matches current members of APCO.

    To be fair and equitable APCO has approached businesses with the same industry (ANZSIC) codes as its current members who are meeting their obligations.

    If your competitors have registered the same ANZSIC code as you, have a turnover of $5M and over, and are not already an APCO member, then they will have been approached.

  • What an ANZSIC code includes

    The Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC).

    ANZSIC codes are used in Australia and NZ for the production and analysis of industry statistics. They were developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Statistics New Zealand (Statistics NZ).

    An individual business entity is assigned to an industry based on its predominant activity.

  • Why brand audit changes are happening now

    In 2017, the Government introduced and approved a new brand audit methodology. It is now in effect. The methodology  promotes fairness across industry sectors to ensure businesses are not competitively disadvantaged.

  • Deadline to respond to the brand audit letter

    30 (calendar) days from the date on your letter. If APCO has not received your reply within 30 days of this letter, it must escalate the compliance process. No action from you will result in referral to EPA Victoria if your product is sold in Victoria.

Reviewed 30 September 2021