Your business is likely to have 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 the NEPM applies to your business and, if so, 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:
- Become a signatory of the Australian Packaging Covenant (the Covenant), or
- 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 a signatory to the Covenant. This encourages a nationally consistent approach. It also provides opportunity for brand owners to work with their industry to improve the way packaging is being managed in Australia.
Liable brand owners who are not a signatory of the Covenant must report information to EPA annually by the 30 September. This is to meet compliance obligations under the Regulations.
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. This is supported by the National Waste Policy.
The 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
Signatories to the Covenant 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.
- Are you in the supply chain of consumer packaging (see definition below)? For example: an importer, supplier of raw material, manufacturer, wholesaler?
- Are you a manufacturer, wholesaler or importer, or do you offer your branded products to consumers (final purchasers of the product, including packaging)?
- 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)?
- 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)?
- Are you a franchisor or franchisee in Australia?
- Are you the first person to sell an imported product in Australia?
- Are you the supplier of in-store packaging to retailers?
- Are you the importer or manufacturer of plastic bags?
- Are you a retailer who provides plastic bags to a consumer for the transportation of products purchased by consumers at the point of sale?
- Do you sell any product that is packaged?
- Is your product delivered or presented to your customer in any type of packaging?
- Do you repackage any product to send to your stores, warehouses or other locations?
- If you sell large machinery, do you sell parts that are packaged?
- 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 packagingYou 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 liable Brand Owner you are required to review packaging design with your supply chain. This is 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 state the requirements in the reuse and recycling of used packaging materials in accordance with the voluntary strategies in the Covenant.
The Regulations ensure that signatories to the Australian Packaging Covenant are not competitively disadvantaged by meeting their commitments.
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 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 liable 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
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. The Sustainable Packaging Guidelines provide a guide for reporters.
Your record keeping and reporting requirements under the Regulations
As a liable Brand Owner, you must record 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 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 a signatory of the Covenant must report this information to EPA annually by the 30 September. A reporting template is available by contacting email@example.com for 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 Regulations.
Submit reports to EPA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org in the form provided.
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 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.
To be fair and equitable, APCO approaches businesses in their brand audit 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) codes are used in Australia and New Zealand 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.
Privacy and commercial confidentialityPlease note that EPA Victoria will maintain the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information unless you consent to its release, or EPA Victoria is legally compelled to release it, or the information is aggregated so as to conceal 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 28 November 2022