Definitions and Terminology

Below is a glossary of definitions and terminology used throughout the Annual Reporting Tool. These definitions are also provided under each relevant section in the Criteria and Scoring information page.

Absolute consumption means the weight of packaging material.

Accuracy is used within the tool against member entered quantitative data to understand the quality of data that is being entered. We define accuracy as having three levels: low, medium and high. “Low” accuracy refers to data that is an approximate estimate. “Medium” accuracy refers to data where your organisation has a good level of understanding for some but not all of the data entered and might be calculated indirectly from a combination of other variables. “High” accuracy refers to data that is measured and recorded internally. High accuracy data is expected to conform to ISO standards in data collection and handling.

Active consumer engagement means any activity orchestrated by an organisation to engage consumers to consider and act on packaging sustainability. For example, this could include information on how to storefood to minimise food waste etc.

B2B packaging Packaging used to distribute products between businesses or business units.

Compostable packaging

A packaging or packaging component (1) is compostable if it is certified to AS4736, AS5810 or a similar compostability standard, and if its successful post-consumer (2) collection, (sorting), and composting is proven to work in practice and at scale (3). [i]

1) ISO 18601:2013: A packaging component is a part of packaging that can be separated by hand or by using simple physical means (e.g. a cap, a lid and (non in-mould) labels).

2) ISO 14021 clarifies post-consumer material as material generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in their role as end users of the product which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. This includes returns of material from the distribution chain.

3) ‘At scale’ implies that there are significant and relevant geographical areas, as measured by population size, where the packaging is actually composted in practice.

Equivalent means the same principles (they do not have to be word for word) are being addressed.

Highest potential environmental value means that recovery is occurring at the optimal level of the waste hierarchy, based on available recovery systems and sustainability impacts of alternative recovery options (e.g. composting vs. recycling, or recycling vs. energy recovery). Reuse is encouraged prior to recovery when there is evidence that it extends the life of the packaging and achieves positive sustainability outcomes.

Innovation could involve changes in the product format (e.g. concentrated to reduce size and weight), product delivery system (e.g. from physical delivery to digital download), or business model (e.g. from product to service).

Involved means that the company has committed significant resources to the program or initiative.

Labelling can be in the form of a statement, symbol or graphic on a purchased product at any point in the supply chain, but most commonly used at the final point of sale (e.g. retail).

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a technique used to assess the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling. The goal of LCA is to compare the full range of environmental effects assignable to products and services (in this case packaging) by quantifying all inputs and outputs of material flows and assessing how these material flows affect the environment. This information is used to improve processes, support policy and provide a sound basis for informed decisions.

There are two main types of LCA. Attributional LCAs seek to establish (or attribute) the burdens associated with the production and use of a product, or with a specific service or process, at a point in time (typically the recent past). Consequential LCAs seek to identify the environmental consequences of a decision or a proposed change in a system under study (oriented to the future), which means that market and economic implications of a decision may have to be taken into account. The most common reporting method is attributional LCA but if your company has opted to use consequential LCA then please make a note of this in the additional information section for the relevant criteria.

Material efficiency aims to minimise the quantity of packaging used for a product. This is achieved by reducing the weight or volume of the package.

On-pack labelling means any label or descriptive text that is included on the external layer of product packaging which conveys information on packaging sustainability.

Optimised (material efficiency) means that no further improvement reductions in packaging weight or volume are possible at the present time. International standard ISO18602 refers to ‘critical areas’ – specific performance criteria that prevent further reduction of weight or volume without endangering functional performance, safety and user acceptability. Includes: product protection, packaging manufacturing processes, packing/filling process, logistics, product presentation/marketing, user/consumer acceptance, information, safety, legislation, other (this should be specified for each product).

Optimised (renewable/recycled content) means that no further changes can be made to the packaging to increase the proportion of renewable or recycled content at the present time, considering criteria such as availability, functional performance, safety and user acceptability, legislation, etc.

Optimised (post-consumer recovery) means that no further changes can be made to improve post-consumer recovery of packaging at the present time.

Optimised (B2B packaging) means that no further reductions in single use B2B packaging are possible at the present time, i.e. there are not opportunities to further reduce the amount of single use packaging e.g. by reducing weight or volume or by replacing single-use packaging with reusable packaging.

Other initiatives is intended to capture initiatives that have not been covered under other criteria. Examples could include programs to reduce litter (clean-ups, sponsoring Clean Up Australia etc.) or reduce the impacts of marine plastics; awards received for packaging sustainability; sharing sustainability knowledge with peers; involvement in public education etc.

Report is any publicly available information.

Packaging sustainability plan is any formal document that is used to communicate packaging sustainability goals and monitor performance over time. The plan can be an internal or publicly available document.

Procedures refers to any set of rules that people need to follow. These could include policies, charters, systems, standards, templates etc.

Products can be SKUs, groups of products or some other categorisation that is meaningful for the company.

The product-packaging system includes the product and all associated packaging (primary, secondary and transport/ distribution packaging).

Primary packaging is the packaging used to contain and protect a product (e.g. bag, bottle, jar, box etc. and any associated components), and which goes home with the consumer. Primary packaging also includes any packaging given to consumers at point of sale (e.g. retail bag, tissue paper etc), and all packaging delivered to consumers with on-line sales (e.g. bag, cushioning, box etc).

A Public document is any document that can be accessed by individuals external to your own organisation.

Recoverability of packaging refers to the availability of systems for reuse, recycling, composting or energy recovery. ‘Recyclable’ means that there is an existing system to collect and recycle the packaging in Australia (see ISO 140121 for more detail).

Recycled content is the proportion, by mass, of pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled material in packaging (AS/ISO 14021). ‘Pre-consumer’ material is material diverted from the waste stream during manufacturing (excluding rework). ‘Post-consumer’ material is material waste generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities. The amount of renewable or recycled material is expressed as a percentage of the quantity of packaging material put onto the market.

Relative consumption means the weight of packaging material relative to a measure of business activity, e.g. turnover.

Renewable means material that is composed of biomass from a living source and that can be continually replenished. Renewable materials include paper and cardboard from sustainably grown wood fibre, or a biopolymer from a sustainable source.

Reusable Packaging means packaging which has been designed to accomplish or proves its ability to accomplish a minimum number of trips or rotations (1,2) in a system for reuse (3,4).[ii]

1) A trip is defined as transfer of packaging, from filling/loading to emptying/unloading. A rotation is defined as a cycle undergone by reusable packaging from filling/loading to filling/loading (ISO 18603).

2) The minimum number of trips or rotations refers to the fact that the ‘system for reuse’ in place should be proven to work in practice, i.e. that a significant share of the package is actually reused (measured e.g. by an average reuse rate or an average number of use-cycles per package).

3) A system for reuse is defined as established arrangements (organisational, technical or financial) which ensure the possibility of reuse, in closed-loop, open-loop or in a hybrid system (ISO 18603).

4) Reuse is an operation by which packaging is refilled or used for the same purpose for which it was conceived, enabling the packaging to be refilled (ISO 18603).

Sustainable materials are materials that support a circular economy for packaging and other sustainability outcomes, e.g. that are renewable; that contain recycled materials; that have the potential to be recovered for reuse, recycling, composting or energy recovery; that minimise toxic or hazardous components; and/or that meet third party certified standards in their supply chain.

Tier 1 supplier provides goods or services directly to the procuring entity.

Tier 2 supplier provides goods or services indirectly through an intermediary to the procuring entity. Beyond tier 2 suppliers provide goods or services indirectly through more than one intermediary to the procuring entity.

Waste hierarchy is an order for preference for the management of waste, with avoidance being the most preferred option and disposal being the least. [iii].

[i] Based on Ellen Macarthur Foundation (2019), The new plastics economy: global commitment reporting guidelines, 16th July 2019, p. 49

[ii] Based on Ellen Macarthur Foundation (2019), The new plastics economy: global commitment reporting guidelines, 16th July 2019, pp 36-7

[iii] Based on NSW EPA,