As consumers become increasingly worried about the damaging effects of plastic packaging on the environment, sustainability is undoubtedly a top priority for businesses, with governments worldwide increasingly introducing regulations on packaging and plastic use to address the growing plastic waste pollution problem.
To better understand the evolving plastics landscape, this article seeks to uncover key statistics linked to plastic production and waste, unpack some of the existing and upcoming regulations in place, and explain how supply chain software can help to collect packaging specifications and map packaging value chains.
As plastic production has surged exponentially since the 1950s, so too has plastic waste, with the majority now ending up in landfill, becoming part of uncontrolled and mismanaged waste streams or dumped in the environment, including at sea.
Many industries are already taking action to reduce plastic waste in operations at country level, including Wrap’s UK Plastics Pact to remove plastic packaging from certain fruit and veg products and the Refill Coalition. However, keeping track of the growing government plastic waste regulations and maintaining a granular understanding of the requirements can be challenging.
The majority of regulation in place concerning packaging focuses on the restriction of certain materials and a focus on waste management via extended producer responsibility (EPR). 83% of legal measures relating to sustainable packaging worldwide focus on plastics with financial penalties (versus subsides) representing the main and preferred regulatory vehicle for change.
Here we summarise some recent directives from the UK and Europe, with more information taken across 30 countries to be found in this McKinsey article.
Knowing where to start to maintain compliance against growing packaging regulations or to demonstrate progress against plastic or packaging waste reduction targets can seem daunting. But by putting supplier networks on a digital map, businesses can take the first steps to collaborating with and capturing data from the supply chain to build a more sustainable future when it comes to packaging.
Working with leading food businesses since 2013, our suite of digital supply chain tools has been helping organisations to understand and manage packaging through the tiers by: