How to Make Sense of Sustainable Packaging - Unleashing the Power of a Greener Future

Posted on 
July 7, 2023
Laura Sams
VP, Marketing, Specright
Gartner: How to Comply with Sustainable Packaging Legislation

As many of us have seen in recent years, legislation and compliance related to sustainable packaging have risen exponentially. Meaning that beyond just creating an appealing package for consumers, companies now have to consider the environmental impacts as well.

From the Environmental Protection Agency (or the EPA) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to the UK Plastics Tax and individual state guidelines, companies are facing endless challenges when it comes to quickly adapting to these rising guidelines.

And with so many unique and complex guidelines out there, many companies don’t know where to start. Although with a few best practices in place, companies can begin minimizing their environmental impact and start aligning with sustainable business practices.

Managing Packaging Data to Comply with Sustainable Packaging Legislation

Maintaining DNA-level data related to a company's products and packaging is essential when it comes to complying with sustainable packaging legislation.

With the complexity and variation that comes along with differing legislation, companies are going to be asked to provide different data points and specifications based on the requirements.

And the reality is, there is no one size fits all outline for what packaging legislation will ask of companies, making access to up-to-date specifications critical.

Getting Ahold of Packaging Data

For many companies data and updated specifications related to packaging are a struggle to find. This is why companies should evaluate their understanding and access to current data around packaging materials, processes, and design.

In doing so teams should begin to identify areas where improvements can be made to align with sustainability goals and comply with legislation.

Without data, companies can’t even benchmark where they stand today, let alone make progress on where they need to go as it relates to sustainable packaging. They are likely to fall short of adequately meeting legislation standards which can result in fines, recalls, and other serious consequences.

Reporting and Compliance

Sustainable packaging legislation will likely require companies to track and report their progress over time - and over time these reports have gotten more complex, asking more of companies.

In Specright’s 2022 State of Sustainability Report, 92% of respondents stated that their companies had specific sustainability goals - and this percentage has likely increased.

In today's current environment around sustainability, reporting on sustainability data is a must and shows accountability to stakeholders regarding sustainability goals.

With this in mind, companies should be able to measure and report on KPIs related to packaging sustainability and have data to support their claims.

Meeting sustainability metrics and monitoring improvement is near impossible without specification data.

Keeping up with Industry and Country Standards

Understanding the nitty gritty of every sustainable packaging legislation would be impossible which is why companies need to familiarize themselves with the legislations that apply to their specific geographic location and industry. Sustainability isn’t easy. If it was, someone would have already figured out how best to address it. But, you know what is easy? Getting a better handle on your data. This way you can make more informed decisions.

Identify Legislation Requirements and Monitor Changes

Sustainability goals and efforts will look very different based on these considerations and have unique expectations from those they affect.

From eliminating waste and banning certain materials to increasing reuse and biodegradable materials different legislation will look to solve different problems.

The world of sustainable packaging legislation is an ever-changing landscape which is why continuously monitoring these changes is critical to ensure updated compliance.

As environmental awareness and concerns about waste continue to grow it is likely that current regulations will become more tedious and new legislations will also be born.

Governments worldwide have recognized the urgency of addressing these environmental challenges and are encouraging one another to set ambitious sustainability goals.

With this in mind, it is important that companies have dedicated team members responsible for the oversight and monitoring of sustainable packaging legislation. Constantly staying up-to-date with legislation is critical to understand what changes may affect company operations, limiting avoidable consequences.

A Spec-First Approach to Managing Sustainable Packaging Legislation

Companies that are taking a spec-first approach to data management will find compliance checks and audits much more manageable. By centralizing and digitizing your specification data, your teams become more agile to address the continuous changes in sustainable packaging legislation.

Up-to-date specifications enable companies to be transparent and accountable to all stakeholders - building trust and corporate commitment to sustainable packaging management.

And beyond improving stakeholder relations, companies who are taking a spec-first approach will be enabled to manage and mitigate risks associated with non-compliance upfront. This can save your company from hefty fines, help avoid any negative media attention, and even help secure brand loyalty among consumers.

In a world driven by conscious consumers and environmental legislation, companies that prioritize the management of accurate and current data will find navigating the complex landscape of sustainable packaging a manageable, yet essential change in business operations.

To learn more, download the latest research from Gartner, How to Comply with Sustainable Packaging Legislation.


Laura Sams

Laura leads content marketing for Specright, overseeing brand and customer storytelling. Before joining Specright in 2021, she held marketing leadership positions at GE Digital, Meridium, and Carilion Clinic. She's a storyteller at heart and is always looking for new ways to share innovation and inspiring stories. Laura is resides in Roanoke, Va., with her husband Matt, and two children Marie and Luke.

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