Data will talk to you if you’re willing to listen
By Sandy Dhesi, Commercial Manager
Data is one of the world’s most influential currencies and can be converted into different values. At Ecoveritas, we now sit on billions of data points. We keep using it, and it keeps regenerating. Data is everything, especially in the world of environmental compliance.
Create user value
With data, you are one step ahead and can act when a trend is gaining momentum. For instance, during the last few years, we have seen a burst of legislation on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Deposit Return Schemes and plastic taxes.
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 admin and cost burdens of doing so. Seeing what’s on the horizon provides valuable insights to businesses. Insights that can shape environmental and commercial strategies. It guides sound business decisions.
At Ecoveritas, it’s all about giving businesses what they want. As a result, we have created tools that help companies to stay ahead of the ever-changing legislative landscape, such as our Global EPR Regulation Matrix.
Surround yourself with data specialists
By 2025, IDC predicts that the total amount of digital data created worldwide will rise to 175 zettabytes. It’s hard to imagine 175 zettabytes of data, but David Reinsel, senior vice president at IDC, explains that a zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes. Now multiply that 175 times. “If one were able to store 175 zettabytes onto BluRay discs, then you’d have a stack of discs that can get you to the moon 23 times.”
At Ecoveritas, we grow by millions of data points each year. That is an ungraspable quantity. We are happy to have a whole analytics and data team ready to make sense of that vast amount of packaging data available. They allow us as a business and our customers to be clear-sighted and take the right packaging decisions based on facts instead of reaching conclusions based on preconceived ideas or subjective “gut feelings”.
It would help if you simply had a map reader in this complex world. Our data shows that Ecohub (our data collection and analytics platform) – increases overall user engagement. We can see an increase in data activity, both the total amount of data uploaded and the data quality per user. We can also see a significant increase in users, including customers and their supply chains that use the platform daily to upload packaging metrics.
This new technology we have developed makes Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) reporting easier – especially for the upcoming UK EPR for packaging reform- so it may be too early to draw any conclusions. However, these valuable insights support our strategy of adding more tech-driven tools to our portfolio that will help our customers comply with environmental legislation faster, more impactfully and cost-effectively.
Numbers are boring, and impacts are interesting
At Ecoveritas, we love numbers. But maybe not for the reason you would think. Many of our team’s backgrounds before venturing into environmental data collection and analysis range from the studies of classical languages, geography, physics, biology, radiation protection, economics, teaching, retail and foster caring. Now, how on earth did many of us then spend the next 10+ years in the packaging industry and producer responsibility specifically? Because the patterns of numbers and environmental data points are a language in itself! It is about learning the language of your data and becoming the “data whisperer”.
What is your data telling you? What actions do you need to take? What strategies are the best bets? So last year, we decided to build our analytics tool Ecoview, based on our environmental data pool. We wanted to make the data come alive in pre-built dashboards so that our customers can accelerate and make powerful changes through their data. And now, anyone can click on their data and understand the big-picture, but at the same time, they can see how their data is created, managed, manipulated, stored, and—most importantly—how it’s used. You can manage the regulatory and reputational risks and use the data to prioritise the right environmental initiatives.
Instant data matters
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. 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 for businesses that will need to report under the new EPR reform due to come in next year.
The packaging industry is at the forefront of a digital shift, and packaging data is now beginning to become available in a digital format. Digitalisation, in other words, can get you instant knowledge.
Our ecosystem represents many stakeholders, including packaging producers and their supply chains, finance departments, tax departments, packaging technologists and CSR teams. They all contribute to the pool of data that the system generates. But you don’t get value from merely capturing data. When we put it to use, with the ambition of helping our ecosystem succeed, we truly can benefit from data. We know that by collecting more granular packaging data and driving quality, transparency and accessibility with our customers, they become more engaged and are enabled to uncover new business opportunities – together is better. They can make informed decisions about their packaging.
For many of our customers, data strategies are making their way up the list of top priorities. But we guess that many companies still lack a reliable data and packaging strategy that fully unleashes the potential of their data. After all, 90 per cent of all the data points in the world are left unused. We hope to, at least, support businesses in utilising their data pool as much as possible. That way, we’ll bring the magic of Extended Producer Responsibility into the future.