APCO simplifies the SME annual reporting process


The new SME Report from the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) will help businesses reach 2025 packaging targets 

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has introduced a new and more efficient reporting process for small-to-medium-enterprises (SMEs) which reduces the reporting workload. 

The new reporting process has gone from over 50 possible questions to 15 targeted questions that drive real sustainability value for SMEs, and its estimated this will reduce task reporting time by up to 80 per cent. 

It also provides a consistent and transparent pathway for APCO brand owner members to assess and track packaging sustainability over time.  

The updates to the Packaging Sustainability Framework and APCO members’ reporting requirements, which come into effect for the 2022 reporting round, not only benefits SMEs, but organisations of any size, because APCO has streamlined its entire annual reporting process.   

According to the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), many small businesses don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to remain up to date with ongoing legislative and regulatory change. 

Small business owners also face significant time constraints and as a result reporting can be a substantial burden on that time.   

Brooke Donnelly, CEO of APCO, said the new process helps the average small business owner by providing the important support they need.  

APCO are constantly looking at ways to better support its members and improve the quality and effectiveness of the resources and services we provide,” said Donnelly. 

We believe this change will significantly improve the way SMEs meet their obligations and add value to their business by driving discussions around sustainable packaging choices that lead to better environmental and business outcomes.” 

It’s also easier for SMEs to fulfill their responsibility around managing packaging waste, while continuing to identify ways to improve and better manage the overall approach. 

Donnelly said the SME Report was the result of stakeholder feedback and APCO’s dedication to providing valuable services to its member.  

APCO is a large and diverse community of business types and sizes, and we recognise the need to provide services that are tailored to the different requirements and resource capabilities of these organisations,” she said. 

“We strive to support the SME sector to have an active role in Australia’s vibrant and robust sustainable packaging system. 

The time constraints presented to SMEs was one of the key drives behind the updated report.  

We understand time is a valuable resource to all businesses, particularly SMEs,” said Donnelly. 

APCO can work with them to better support and empower those businesses to fulfill their responsibilities and drive added value through sustainable packaging practices.” 

Feedback from members was sought by APCO to help better inform the SME Report.  

Donnelly said the feedback helped them develop a better understanding of the resources and support required for SMEs.  

It has kick started a conversation about the important role of SMEs in the collective approach with industry and government to help Australia reach the 2025 National Packaging Targets, and what that can look like as we move forward,” said Donnelly. 

APCO member, KeepCup, which introduced the world’s first barista standard reusable cup, was highlighted as an example of the success and benefits of sustainable packaging. 

Abigail Forsyth, co-founder and managing director at KeepCup, said the journey to more sustainable packaging was an ever evolving one.  

“Technology changes, processes improve, and new materials become available and most importantly customers are demanding change,” said Forsyth. 

“Wise businesses are putting sustainability and the circular economy at the centre of their commercial strategy.”  

Other SMEs, like Sancell, a protective packaging manufacturer, are acutely aware of the impact its products can have on the environment as one of Australia’s leading plastics manufactures.  

Doug Parkinson, CEO of Sancell, said waste reduction and waste minimisation is always at the fore of Sancell’s manufacturing and product development processes. 

“Ensure that what you are changing to is authentic, fit-for-purpose and achieves real and measurable benefits for the environment. And, most importantly, avoid the greenwash,” said Parkinson.  

With more than 1,500 Australian businesses already part of the APCO community, membership provides organisations with support to improve their business performance through driving packaging sustainability to achieve Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets.  


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