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Is global standardization essential to sustainable packaging's future?

Economic and market forces drive sustainability movement; new committee attempting to harmonize standards pertaining to environmental packaging.

Pw 3879 Sustainable Standards 1

In his online report coverage of the ISTA Transport Packaging Forum, DDL’s Pat Nolan writes, “’Green’ packaging will continue to be driven predominantly by economic and market forces, independent of the ‘sustainability movement.’”

Nolan, an editorial contributor to Healthcare Packaging magazine, succinctly states, “Over the long term, there are no incentives for businesses to use more packaging materials than is required to get the product to the consumer. It has always made good business sense to discover the most economical and practical way to package your product.”

Beyond this practical advice, Nolan plunges more deeply into package sustainability, saying, “The pursuit of continuous improvement for package sustainability does not preclude the development of standards, goals, and ‘scorecards,’ however; it presents a challenge to the development of global standardization.” He points out, “It will not exactly be ‘sustainable packaging’ if each supplier has to comply with a different ‘scorecard’ for each retailer they want to sell to; so global standardization appears essential.”

To that end, he says, a new International Organization for Standardization committee, TC 122/SC 4 (Packaging and Environment) “is attempting to harmonize standards from industrialized countries around the world. The outcome will eventually be a set of international standards on packaging optimization, reuse, material recycling, energy recycling, chemical recovery, and organic recovery.”

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