Beyond compliance: Finding value in packaging compliance data

The overriding priority for almost every business today is sustainability. And many companies are seeking solutions that can promote circularity and help to reduce their environmental footprint.

A new demographic is willing to pay more for sustainable packaging and delivery, and, as a result, sustainable packaging is at an inflection point.

Collecting and reporting packaging data can be challenging – very challenging indeed. And it will undoubtedly drive a significant attitude adjustment toward compliance. With a better understanding of the packaging any business uses now essential, the real winners will be those who grasp the true business value of data and move beyond compliance.

Packaging design, sustainable materials, packaging formats, labelling requirements, recycled content, recyclability, and Extended Producer Responsibility fees are only some of the high priorities for the businesses on our platform. That makes data essential in supporting further progress. Even the most seasoned find it tough. The bar is higher. More is at stake.

As organisations take in this new, complex regulatory landscape and contemplate how to prepare themselves, understanding the transformative role that data can play will be key.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – data is everything in environmental compliance. Businesses are dealing with the increased workload of complying with numerous pieces of environmental legislation, increased compliance fees, and sustainability targets, all on top of their core business responsibilities. They want to be compliant and reduce their environmental impact, but at the same time, they also need to ease the cost burdens of doing so.

Most companies still rely heavily on spreadsheets and heaps of information in multiple databases and platforms – fragmented across the company. The result is messy and unreliable data, which could prove disastrous. And while ignoring it in the vain hope it will go away may feel like an option in the short term, those investing time and energy in their compliance capabilities are experiencing a whole suite of bolt-on benefits, including driving down the cost of compliance and increasing its effectiveness.


EPR has more uses than compliance

“We need to stem the flow of packaging which goes unrecycled and instead is lost forever to landfill and incineration,” said Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, earlier this year.

Times are changing, and there remain so many moving parts. EPR represents a very important first step to understanding what packaging flows through the UK and, perhaps most importantly, what happens afterwards.

Data collection is now fully underway, and lots of new pieces of data are now required, including updated activities to be determined and reported separately, household/non-household distinction, packaging class, street litter, drinks, and self-managed waste.

When you think about the prospect of complex reporting to the government, increased management time, multiple reporting deadlines to manage, onerous packaging data collection, understanding how the regulations work, and rising compliance fees, it is little wonder that after a good period of head scratching, many businesses, particularly SMEs – who will be captured by the legislation for the first time – baulk at the new requirements.

With the 2007 Producer Responsibility Packaging Waste Regulations running alongside the data reporting requirements under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulations 2024, you would forgive most businesses for not knowing where to start. Instead, they seek professional services that make it easy to understand any obligations, get compliant and respond appropriately through reduction, substitution, and recycling.

The importance of compliance itself isn’t new. In a trust-based world, the brands, products, and services perceived as trustworthy are highly effective at attracting and retaining customers. Many leaders have also learned that one indiscretion can be very costly to their organisation’s profits and reputation.

But elevating compliance to a position of strategic value can be a game changer in today’s world. It can increase the top line by attracting customers through the trust so many talk about and the bottom line by building toward competitive and cost advantage.

The market leaders will be organisations harnessing data’s power to transform their business. You can be sure that your competitors will be looking for insights into their data to drive them ahead and that the disruptors in your sector will be data-driven. Data can transform your business and make you the market leader if used correctly.

Ecoveritas will work with you to grow your data mastery and get more value from your packaging data. We’re ensuring managers can better understand and communicate data and analytics to seize business opportunities and increase competitiveness in an increasingly data-driven world.


Use it or lose it

Decision-making is becoming increasingly complex, meaning organisations must find ways to ensure those involved can make the right decisions quickly. What’s important is that you’ve got the right information to make the right decision.

Getting the right information and understanding the right parameters is often not as well-considered as it could be. Never mind someone armed with that data looking at correlation versus causation.

For what feels like an eternity, we have encouraged our clients to engage quickly with this debate, prepare for change and start planning to mitigate the impacts.

Why? Because, while EPR will set a price – eventually – a demonstrable commitment to sustainability should, in theory, get a discount.

We have seen first-hand the impact that a better availability of data and growing use of technology are making. From breach prevention to real-time detection and correction, there are ways and means of getting more value out of data and using it for other purposes.

At Ecoveritas, we have a huge database of packaging information. We can benchmark our clients against their competitors on key metrics such as packaging weights, recycled content, recyclability, and material use, helping identify improvement opportunities. This data can also be used to drive and underpin internal and external targets or even double up as supporting evidence in the case of UK and EU Green Claims legislation.

Packaging compliance data is often an ideal starting point for a full packaging lifecycle analysis or to be used as a high-level carbon footprint across multiple product groups, helping to identify where to focus design and supply chain efforts. And with increasing compliance costs anticipated, packaging data can be used to identify product lines, groups or suppliers that could result in your highest compliance costs.

Getting EPR reporting right is a matter of starting, learning, building, and improving. Companies need to embed EPR reporting and connect it to their business goals, but they need to do this in an organised and intelligent manner.

In lay terms, efficiency and effectiveness are defined as the capacity to achieve/yield more from the same resources or less. With new EPR-focused technology and solutions, along with commitment internally from employees, companies can be pragmatically optimistic that they comply accurately with EPR legislation with minimal effort.

If you want to learn more about how our services can help your business comply with EPR for packaging or EPR’s significant role in advancing the transition towards a circular economy.

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