The buyer research phase of the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) market development of mixed recycled plastics project is nearly complete and the findings to date are starting to reveal some interesting insights.
The research has included online surveys of government organisations (state and local) in Victoria and South Australia, as well as the viticulture sector (South Australia), suppliers, and individual stakeholders.
Government buyers were asked a range of questions about their experience with mixed plastic recycled content products including outdoor furniture, bollards, decking, posts and related products. The purpose of the research was to gain a thorough understanding of the barriers and opportunities in using the materials, and the information needs they have. This will help ECO-Buy develop a suite of tools to help increase the uptake of these products through the procurement process.
What did we find?
Initial analysis of survey responses shows that nearly all local governments have bought at least some recycled content products– with bollards the number one purchase and suppliers in Victoria and South Australia being the main suppliers.
Buyers were asked whether these products either met, exceeded or where below their expectations across multiple parameters. These included: Value for money, fitness for purpose, supplier performance and durability.
Nearly all products listed met expectations across these parameters, which is good to hear. Overall, recycled plastic sleepers, edging and outdoor furniture and fitness trails were rated the highest across these parameters. Bollards were also rated highly overall.
In terms of information needs, the majority of buyers felt that they were not well informed. The areas where information needs were the greatest was in the performance comparison with other materials, pricing, and environmental benefits. Buyers tend to look for field trials rather than value information about the technical properties of the materials. Improved information will help achieve good outcomes across all product applications.
Once ECO-Buy has completed its consultation with the viticulture sector, and with suppliers, a plan will be developed to address the information needs identified. This exciting project should really make a difference in closing the gap between what suppliers provide in terms of both the product and the information, and what buyers want.