Business encouraged to go ‘above and beyond’ packaging legislation through new checklist

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the Industry Council for research on Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN) have partnered together to launch a new "sustainability checklist" to help companies optimise their packaging systems.

The Packaging for people, planet and profit sustainability checklist was unveiled today (10 March) by the groups, both of which account for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector (FDF) and retailers and suppliers wishing to promote resource efficiency through packaging and supply chains (INCPEN).

The checklist provides an array of choices for companies to optimise packaging so that it contributes to a net improvement in resource use, makes supply chains resource-efficient, caters to safety and hygiene demands and addresses environmental issues.

In a statement featured in the checklist, environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: “This framework is a strong development towards a more sustainable future, helping to increase resource efficiency and waste prevention, while contributing to an overall reduction in carbon use.

“A whole chain effort is needed to truly succeed, and we must all make the best use of our resources – that is why I welcome these initiatives and the work of the FDF and INCPEN to help us make supply chains more resource-efficient and better protect our environment.”

The checklist covers practical guidance for firms to enhance resource efficiency at all stages of the packaging value chain, including transportation and end of life. Jointly, the organisations involved in the checklist account for 46% of UK manufacturing employment, with a turnover of around £280m. This creates a big opportunity to transform packaging methods amongst these firms.

To incentivise companies to comply, the checklist aims to stimulate innovation in package design to help companies reap economic gains as they become more responsive to “rapidly changing” consumer demands. Both FDF and INCPEN will track the reach of the checklist through member downloads and will monitor its use through member feedback sessions.

Ambition and transition

The checklist acts as the first deliverable under FDF’s Ambition 2025, which calls on members to ramp-up industry efforts to reduce environmental impacts, protect natural capital, and contribute to the delivery of a sustainable food system.

FDF’s director of food safety, science and sustainability Helen Munday said: “This guidance will help businesses choose and optimise their use of packaging in ways that will contribute to a net improvement in the use of resources across the value chain. This improvement can be achieved whilst continuing to ensure that food safety and quality requirements are not compromised. We encourage all food and drink operators to use it.”

The checklist also encourages firms to go “above and beyond” numerous legal requirements, including the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, which could place extra costs on packaging producers after the UK departs the EU.

However, the UK Government has taken steps to ease these concerns during this week’s budget announcement. According to the full document, the Government will legislate to set new statutory packaging recycling targets for 2018 to 2020, to ensure compliance with the EU’s Packaging Directive. This will see the introduction of 75% recycling targets for paper, 64% for aluminium, 85% for steel and 48% for wood packaging. Recovery targets will also be increased from 79% to 82% by 2020.

Matt Mace

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