Tens of millions of dollars in extra funding for Australia’s food and beverage sector is being viewed as a positive step forward for the industry.
The recent announcement from the federal government that it would provide a $60 million funding boost for advanced recycling of soft plastics, along with the announcement in the Federal Budget of more funding for regional stakeholders, has been welcomed by the Australian Food & Grocery Council.
The AFGC and major food and grocery manufacturers including Arnott’s, Nestlé, Mondelez, Unilever, Mars Wrigley and Kellogg have welcomed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement of a new $60 million stream under the Recycling Modernisation Fund targeted at advanced soft plastics recycling technologies.
AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said the funding will allow the development of onshore recycling capabilities for hard-to-recycle soft plastic packaging, such as bread bags and cereal box liners, and allow Australian manufacturers to source more food-grade recycled content for packaging here in Australia.
“Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing industry is committed to creating an effective and sustainable circular economy for plastic packaging in Australia,” said Barden.
“The AFGC is currently developing the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS), which will be Australia’s largest industry-led plastics recycling scheme. This new investment to support advanced recycling provides a key link for creating a successful product stewardship scheme for soft plastic packaging.
“Plastic packaging has an important role in keeping food safe and fresh, reducing food waste and keeping products intact. Our industry understands we must maximise recycling to reduce use of virgin plastics, build Australia’s advanced recycling capabilities and avoid harmful effects on the environment.”
Meanwhile, Barden was also happy with the Federal Budget announcements regarding the industry.
Barden said the targeted funding will strengthen regional food and grocery manufacturing with measures including a $500m boost in funding for regional business through the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) and a $200m increase to the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.
“The past two years have underscored how critically important a strong, sovereign food and grocery manufacturing industry is for Australia. The support for regional manufacturers, who are major employers and providers of essential items, is a significant boost,” said Barden.
The AFGC welcomes the further $328.3m provided for the MMI’s six national manufacturing priorities over the next five years, however, notes that this is inadequate given the investment challenges faces by the food and grocery sector. Food and beverage manufacturing was identified as one of the six priorities and the AFGC has developed a vision for doubling the size of the industry by 2030, which requires significant capital investment.
The Budget’s projected fall in non-mining investment after 2023 is of concern and will need attention if we are to grow the future productive capacity of the Australian economy.
Barden commended the federal government on delivering a responsible budget while supporting the Australian community and businesses through the challenges of COVID-19 and natural disasters.
“This budget comes as Australian food and grocery manufacturers face unprecedented costs, inflationary pressures and disruption,” said Barden.
“It is pleasing to see the government has delivered a deficit that is considerably below forecasts while introducing measures to support consumers and shore up Australia’s supply chains.”
The AFGC represents Australia’s food and grocery manufacturers, who together employ the nation’s largest manufacturing workforce and comprise 16,000 businesses employing more than 270,000 people.