New draft standards on packaging and the environment

The European standards body, CEN, has issued five draft standards and a guidance document for public comment, in support of the Union directive for packaging and packaging waste (94/62/EC).

When adopted these European Standards will offer a route to compliance with the essential requirements of the directive.

The CEN says that although it proved impossible to arrive at simple ‘pass/fail’ criteria for all the standards, these draft standards do offer a method of managing packaging policies and design within enterprises through the whole complex chain of manufacturing, supply, and disposal. They give a method for continuous improvement of packaging within the limits of the functions which packaging serves in modern economies (i.e. protection of goods, hygiene, and safety of the consumer.)
There is separate standard for each method of achieving the directive’s objectives:

  • prEN 13427, Packaging and the environment – Requirements for the use of European Standards in the field of packaging and packaging waste, which a person or organisation may use to put in place the complete suite of standards – showing the relationship between them – and describes procedures for minimising effects on the environment and demonstrating conformity;
  • prEN 13428, Prevention by source reduction This is the preferred option for reducing at source the amount of packaging used by weight or volume. The choice is to be considered within the overall life-cycle of products and packaging and is also assessed with respect to social and economic factors;
  • prEN 13429, Re-use, where the packaging is in fact capable of being reconditioned and systems are in place to support re-use;
  • prEN 13430, Requirements for packaging recoverable by material recycling, which addresses separability of components and acceptable tolerances for non-compatible elements or substances. It gives ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ where packages claim to be capable of being recycled;
  • prEN 13431, Requirements for packaging recoverable in the form of energy recovery, including specification of minimum inferior calorific value, for the assessment of energy recovery by combustion, classifying materials which can be put through a process of energy recovery with a net gain;
  • prEN 13432, Requirements for packaging recoverable through composting and biodegradation – Test scheme and evaluation criteria for the final acceptance of packaging, which, as well as biodegradability, addresses disintegration during biological treatment and the effects on the biological treatment process and quality of resulting compost.

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