Product sustainability is an increasingly mainstream business requirement. Aside from the multiplying legislative and regulatory concerns, ignoring the origin of components and materials, the management of toxic and harmful substances and the sustainability impacts of consumption, disposal, and recovery, can lead to significant business risks.
Ecoveritas continues to help businesses from the powerhouse to the pint-sized prepare for the rollout of enhanced EPR obligations. Talk in packaging circles is often about the distance still to run in the race to reach our sustainability goals. It is easy to forget, though, how far we have come. And as retailers race to meet consumer and investor demands for more sustainable products, they are learning that the most significant business opportunities and risks originate deep in their very own supply chains.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging aims to reduce the environmental and economic burdens of packaging waste management by extending producer responsibility to the end-of-life stage. It is a revamp of 1997 legislation, so is seriously overdue. EPR will see producers effectively made liable for the full cost of managing the packaging that’s put on the market.
Any effective EPR system worth its salt should be supported by evidence-based knowledge, incentives, strong commitment and collaboration between the private sector, government, and consumers. EPR should be a natural and integrated part of any sustainable society and an important element of effective circular economy and waste resource management.
A new digital eco-system
Global supply chain operations are dependent on the synchronisation of key players to make sure demands are met as efficiently as possible. But one singular factor is so encompassing in its influence that it directly impacts every sinew of the logistical process – product packaging.
Product packaging is no longer just about putting goods in a cardboard box. Considering how everything is optimised, product packaging serves multiple functions that impact distribution, warehousing, and both business operations and consumers’ actions.
Supply chains have experienced seismic issues recently, and the printing and packaging industries are not immune to their effects. Setting baselines and measuring progress during uncertain times has been complex, but one thing is abundantly clear: the indispensable reliance that supply chains have on packaging.
While having sustainability initiatives in place has been a business imperative for most companies for some time now, efforts specifically geared towards sustainable packaging are still a relatively new focus area for most.
Ecoveritas continues to empower businesses to gather insight and then use that insight to inform business decision-making and solve pain points quickly and seamlessly. Businesses are now clamouring to ensure sustainable operational excellence is maintained long-term.
To successfully implement EPR for packaging, all stakeholders, including government need to be confident that all data requirements and availability issues, including financial data, are sufficiently covered to ensure high levels of transparency and to protect against the risk of fraud.
EPR must enable the capture and flow of adequate evidence from reprocessors and exporters back up the chain. The reasons for this are twofold; it helps reduce the risk of fraud or misreporting and could help facilitate incentive payments for high-quality collection, sorting, and reprocessing.
Understanding your supply chain
The supply chain today is a series of siloed steps taken through marketing, product development, manufacturing, and distribution, and finally into the hands of the customer. Digitisation brings down those walls, and the chain becomes a completely integrated ecosystem that is fully transparent to all the players involved.
Businesses need to determine what needs to be true for a package to be technically recyclable, and subsequently, if there is data available to support a claim. Businesses struggle to manage specification data for packaging. For many, this information is held by suppliers or sits in legacy systems making it difficult to access and view material use in aggregate. Access to this data is essential for a sustainable packaging strategy to be successful and for financial responsibility to be apportioned fairly.
Our proven tools for visibility into extended supply chains are now providing an opportunity to improve collaboration and the efficiency of the working relationship between customers and suppliers, which benefits both businesses and the environment.
Our comprehensive platform – Ecoview – provides users with complete transparency and accessibility to their packaging data and offers brands and retailers a detailed breakdown of their packaging supply chain. Furthermore, evidence and documentation is checked and stored all in one place. No more disaggregated, decentralised, and non-standardised data. Ecoveritas ensures you have the data in hand to contribute to a fair and effective solution.
With 45 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions coming solely from the production of the things we use and buy every day, the imperative for addressing sustainability in supply chains has never been more critical.
The onus is on manufacturers and brands to make sure the systems their products flow into are robust and circular. By leveraging our services and combining upstream measures on design and materials with post-use strategies, the system-wide approach we all want is within reach.