Packaging trade association urges compliance with imminent standards

All companies active in the packaging supply chain should comply with new EU packaging standards willingly, says the European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (Europen).

Europen has issued a statement to its members urging them to approach new packaging standards, which should be agreed next month, with an open mind and with a view to willing compliance. “For far too long industry has lacked a defence against unfounded criticism of packaging,” writes Europen managing director Julian Carroll. “Use of the standards presents an opportunity to help deflate this criticism. Industry should therefore grasp this tool and put it to work to its advantage.”

Another argument in favour of the imminent packaging standards, according to Europen, is that they can be included in a company’s environmental management system (EMS): “the methodology accompanying the standards is based on a self-assessment procedure which can be easily incorporated into established quality and management procedures such as EMS and the ISO 9000 or 14000 series”.

The standards, which are part of the implementation of the 1994 EU Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste (see related story), are being developed by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN). A draft of the standards was published last year and a final version will be published once the authorities from EU member states reach agreement on them. This is expected to take place in April.

The principles underlying the standards will focus on:

  • evidence that packaging weight and volume is minimised to the level required needed for safety and acceptance
  • hazardous substances should have minimum impact on the environment once the packaging reaches its end of life
  • packaging should be suitable for material recycling, energy recovery, composting or reuse

Only the UK and France have decided how compliance with the packaging standards will be enforced, with the UK expecting the brand owner or importer to ensure compliance while France places responsibility in the hands of the packaging manufacturer.

Europen has created ‘model’ forms for assessing “the assembly and recording of data to demonstrate compliance” with packaging standards. These can be downloaded from the organisation’s website (see related story).

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