New Packaging Standards May Change the Way You Shop

The International Standards Organization (ISO) worked last week to begin developing environmental standards that could affect packagers worldwide.

The meeting in Stockholm involved industry leaders from countries around the world, with participating nations hoping to approve standards mid-2012.

According to Packaging Digest, the ISO has “proposed that six standards be developed dealing respectively with source reduction, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, chemical recovery, composting and biodegradation.”

While many companies initially resisted the change, those that switch to more sustainable packaging are seeing real, bottom-line savings. Photo: Sprint

While many companies initially resisted the change, those that switch to more sustainable packaging are seeing real, bottom-line savings. Photo: Sprint

Updates such as these could impact the way our products are wrapped, shipped and packaged for all types of materials including paper and plastic, but would ultimately serve to reduce the environmental impact of this industry sector.

According to Care2, while many major companies have resisted sustainable packaging initiatives in the past (citing the higher costs of implementing new packaging processes as the biggest deterrent), those that have persevered have typically seen dramatic savings and the disposal of far less packaging waste.

An example of these savings was recently announced by Sprint, which made it’s phone accessory packaging more sustainable and will save at least $2.1 million annually due to the updates.

As reported in a 2007 survey by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and Packaging Digest, 73 percent of 1,255 respondents stated that their companies were emphasizing sustainable packaging.

“Adoption of global standards on packaging and the environment will provide a foundation reference point for any regional or local initiatives – either from the public or corporate sector – aimed at addressing environmental concerns about packaging,” said Julian Carroll, managing director of Europen, the European Organziation for Packaging and the Environment. “Sometimes their goals are contrary to each other and occasionally they don’t make any environmental sense. The proposed ISO standards could become a much needed benchmark for any proposed regional, national or even local packaging regulation.”

Europen was one of the attending organizations in support of international standards to uniting approaches to making packaging more sustainable around the world.

The ISO Technical Committee 122 is responsible for all standards related to packaging and has created a new subcommittee (SC4 Packaging and the Environment) to carry out the drafting of these standards.

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