Finding the value in compliance data

Finding the value in compliance data

By Kathy Illingworth, Head of Sustainability & Consulting

Change is the rapid constant of the tech world.

And how do you shepherd through change? Dream big. Start small. But most of all, START. This has been our simple message concerning the protracted rollout of Extended Producer Responsibility.

It has been a tumultuous few weeks for the landmark policy. Still, the good news is that the data reporting legislation has become law, so at least the government can more accurately assess the amount of packaging placed onto the market in 2023 before introducing new fees. Companies should now be collecting the data outlined in The Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) (England) Regulations 2023, which came into effect on 28 February 2023.

By now, we’d like to think the packaging data collection market would be maturing. In an ideal world, we would highlight our combined activities’ transformational impact globally.

But the truth is, using data to measure packaging outcomes is a young science that will need to quickly grow. Data can create ripples of change across the entire packaging value chain, providing specificity for informed decision-making and ensuring the transparency and accountability that can ensure sustainability within the packaging sector.

READ MORE: A handy guide to all things Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Find out what you need to know, including why it’s important, whether it applies to you, timelines, what to do and much more.

Getting data ready

Almost everything we do generates data. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the overall global datasphere reached 64 zettabytes in 2020, with 2.5 quintillion more bytes of data created daily.

This brave new world of data is continually evolving.

We are living through a data explosion, as vast amounts of information about all aspects of human behaviour have become more and more accessible. We can use this big data to help determine the best course to chart; to build our problem-solving muscles and enhance our ability to improve things.

The packaging sector’s data revolution has only just begun. The arrival of advanced metrics and detailed analysis is already reshaping what is produced. We can now fully assess manufacturers’ performances, analysing and measuring what is the best fit for people, profit-seekers and the planet. There is no turning back.

Winning in the packaging sector is no longer just about the finished product; it’s now a battle taking place in boardrooms and on screens across international borders with the world’s brightest design minds driving for an edge over their fiercest rivals.

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.

We are all familiar with completing an annual packaging return, which many businesses forget about once submitted until they need to submit it again the following year. The first bi-annual submission under the new EPR for the packaging system, which is for those businesses classed as ‘large’. Producers (>2m turnover and handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging), will need to be completed by October 1 this year, with registration opening on August 16.

Lots of new pieces of data are now required, including:

  • Updated activities to be determined and reported separately, such as brand owner, importer, etc.
  • Household/non-household distinction
  • Packaging class (layer – primary, secondary, tertiary, shipment)
  • Street litter
  • Drinks
  • Self-managed waste

To meet the complex challenges of managing environmental compliance reporting, at Ecoveritas we offer a unique combination of consulting, data and software that helps companies around the globe take the next step in their sustainability journey.

Our solutions, designed to meet your goals, tap into guidance and support from our compliance experts, tap into over 20,000 data requests validated yearly, streamline reporting, and adapt to evolving EPR legislation and business needs.

Enhancing intuition

Self-awareness is the meta-skill of the 21st century – the foundation for high performance, smart choices, and lasting relationships.

With data, you are one step ahead and can act when a trend is gaining momentum. 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.

Every decision has a consequence. This is why, at Ecoveritas, we never examine the sustainability benefits of packaging in isolation but examine the broader picture. So, we can measure and compare the sustainability performance of different packaging designs. Our goal is for all our customers to have a crystal-clear view of the circularity performance of their packaging and can make informed decisions on which designs meet their objectives most.

Whether you use a data company like Ecoveritas or capture this data internally, it represents a financial investment for producers, so you can try and get more value out of the data by using it for other purposes. Here are the ways you, or we, can do that;

Benchmarking: At Ecoveritas, we have a huge database of packaging information. We can use this for clients to see how they compare to their peers regarding their packaging weights, recycled content, recyclability, material use etc. This helps identify opportunities for improvements.

Packaging Strategies: This data can be used to drive and underpin the KPIs companies are working towards internally and externally. This also includes voluntary agreements and customer requests.

LCA: Packaging compliance data is the perfect starting point for a full LCA or can help identify where to focus design and supply chain efforts.

Cost Savings: With increasing compliance costs anticipated (and all other costs!), this data can be used to identify product lines, groups, or suppliers who may result in your highest compliance costs. For example, under the EPR reform, we expect fees to be modulated in future years based on recyclability; by identifying now which lines may have the greatest future costs, the change process can be implemented to avoid them.

Green Claims: With UK and EU updates on Green Claim Codes, both focus on the need for robust evidence to support any public claims made by companies. The data and supporting documents collected for compliance are often the same evidence and can be used to support claims.

READ MORE: Sustainable by design. Green, durable or just pragmatic solutions – what does your consumer want? We can help you provide data-led, evidence-backed solutions.

Simplicity as a puzzle of complexity

Sustainability data has many sources and formats. It needs to be calculated, collected and curated to make it fit for compliance, reporting and customer experiences. This interconnectivity isn’t just for big business. No SMEs can afford to ignore it. Capturing data and real-time insights is no longer a “nice to have” – it is the future of success in the new economy.

Data is unique among commodities: the more you have, the more value it potentially offers. That’s why data management is so important to today’s businesses, where this precious resource can reside in anything from a car to a sensor to a point-of-sale system. We work closely with those on a mission to understand the truth about their value chain: the who, where and how involved in making their products and packaging, and the social and environmental impact this has. Those with the goal of full transparency of all materials, processes, partners and facilities, from raw materials to finished products.

Policy backed by legislation is surely the essential foundation for the circular economy. When designed well, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) enables us to transform how we manage packaging waste for recycling. The key is setting enforceable performance targets to align all stakeholders, invest, and continually improve the system. In this way, EPR does much more than shift who pays for the programme.

Our team takes a fresh approach to the environmental compliance market by adding years of supply chain and technical development experience to an experienced environmental data team. Best-in-class companies can realise up to a 50% drop in data collection and reporting time and a 60% increase in data coverage.

Our tools give the big, integrated picture. They can connect waste, sustainability actions, and finance at a system-wide level. They let you see what materials and activities drive packaging waste and reveal the effects of reducing them.

The most successful companies in the modern, sustainability-driven age will use data to connect the various siloes of their business to create fluid, interconnected data streams that can be picked apart at a micro or macro level to identify new efficiencies. Compliance will become a floor, not a ceiling – embracing data will help businesses identify where their supply chains are stretched or where unnecessary waste exists. It will unlock new opportunities for suppliers, converters, and manufacturers to harmonise processes and open new avenues for differentiation. At a time when sustainability is essential, and the market is fraught with reputational risk, data collection and analysis tools put the power to manage that risk squarely in the hands of businesses.

We equip businesses with the tools and strategies needed to thrive in the digital economy. Now is the right time to review how your business could transform its decisions and drive greater success.

Our tailored solutions are designed to positively affect every part of your business, helping businesses quantify, identify, demonstrate, and illustrate their contribution towards making the world a better place.

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