Do we have the big data infrastructure to drive successful EPR reform?

It is a subject that is no longer being ignored. Progressing towards a circular economy requires the performance of waste management systems throughout the world to improve – significantly.

Sweeping new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, which will be introduced in a phased manner from 2024, is the universally accepted solution of UK policy makers.

The pending scheme, along with many more like it around the globe, is designed to generate much needed funding for waste management infrastructure, and hopefully boost collection and recycling rates.

And while the glare of the spotlight will continue to intensify on EPR reform, some forward-thinking businesses are already bolstering their data capabilities, ensuring their fair and effective interaction from the get-go.

Whilst quality data will be instrumental to the successful future of our waste management landscape, hiring data roles is an increasingly important strategic decision, which facilitates better business decision-making.

Companies that excel and continue to invest in such areas will, without doubt, be better prepared for what will reveal itself as a key disruptive force in the coming years. The value of transparent, accurate, quality data will be pivotal, while accurate insight into key variables is the very essence of EPR reform, no longer just a ‘nice-to-have’.

 

You can’t improve what you don’t measure

Our proven suite of tools capture and manage data correctly, creating a culture that makes data self-service. At ecoveritas, our compliance consultants work with your team to quickly assess your obligations by country and provide an efficient, cost-effective, outsourced solution to your registration and reporting needs. We simplify the entire administration process. Appreciating that specialist recruitment can be a stretch too far for lean businesses, our team becomes a ‘plug in and play’ extension of yours.

Intriguingly, the proportion of packaging companies hiring for big data roles was touted at 82.1% in March 2022 and has remained largely consistent. However, at the advent of such seismic industry changes as EPR and the UK Plastic Packaging tax, it is interesting to note monthly job postings for data roles in the packaging industry are 1.7% lower than the national average, across all industries.

Soon-to-arrive, extremely large, shifting, and complex datasets require experienced, bordering on specialist, hands, especially given that the impending legislative requirements are to be layered onto other routine, in-house data-related commitments, such as industrial systems and IoT devices, for example RFID tags or sensors, as well as email correspondence, financial transactions, website, and social media.

 

Data that powers what you do

So, while companies in the packaging and processing industry are faced with bigger amounts of data than we have ever had before, done right, it can offer a helping hand and ensure optimisation of operating processes, higher profits, and happier customers.

Done expertly, EPR reform presents the ideal opportunity for brands to rethink their sustainability objectives and move them from an obligation to a core component of commercial strategy. Taking action to analyse and understand in greater detail the impact their packaging and its supply chain has on the environment will enable brands to reduce their costs and ensure compliance long term.

At the same time, it will also provide unique, valuable data to underline and reinforce green assertations that are strongly resonating with shoppers and playing a key role in consumer purchase decisions right now.

Working with us frees you to see through their obligatory nature, instead turning measurable data into meaningful commercial strategy. We give you the confidence to take in the bigger picture.

Take ecoview, for example, a sophisticated online analysis and reporting tool for brand owners, with full transparency of packaging data at even the most granular level, regardless of business size or supply chain complexity.

Local authorities, too, will have to make significant improvements to ensure its effective implementation. Where dated processes previously excused disaggregated and decentralised data and left it open to interpretation, with hazy exemptions awarded geographically, and zero penalties for missing or late entries, this represents a level of accountability that is long overdue.

EPR reform aims to revolutionise how the management of our waste packaging is organised and funded, incentivising producers to embrace packaging that is easily reused, dismantled, or recycled at end of life. We need granular insight into the volume of material placed on the market, the amount of waste packaging collected by local authorities and businesses, and true recycling rates. All of this will be crucial in accurately calculating full net cost and avoiding a scenario of easy-to-recycle items subsidising those that represent a tougher proposition.

Nothing but complete transparency and meticulous accuracy will do when it comes to incentivising a circular economy. And to evaluate the total cost of managing packaging at end of life, every material must pay its way.

Call it compliance, or call it strategic anticipation, but using the next 18 months to put the right people and processes in place, regarding better outcomes for waste packaging, will pay dividend, irrespective of how well managed, or received, the system transpires to be in the first instance.

 

To learn more about ecoveritas, its data-driven approach to sustainability and comprehensive service offering for brands, retailers and their supply chains, please visit www.ecoveritas.com

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