Experts meet to hammer out green packaging standards

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Standardization, International organization for standardization

The bid to set up international standards on packaging and the environment will begin tomorrow when 70 delegates converge in Sweden for a global summit.

Experts from the United States, China, Japan, Korea and 11 European countries are scheduled to attend the first meeting in Stockholm of a specialist International Standards Organisation (ISO) committee on establishing harmonised benchmarks designed to cut the carbon footprint of packaging. The new standards are expected to be completed and approved by the second quarter of 2012.

Six standards

The three-day event will examine the development of six standards suggested by the ISO; source reduction, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, chemical recovery, composting and biodegradation. These six standards will be covered by a seventh ‘umbrella standard’ setting out requirements for their use.

The committee, known as the SC4 Packaging and Environment group has been formed under the ISO Technical Committee 122, which is responsible for all packaging standards.

It has been proposed that the new ISO standards be based on the existing European packaging and environment standards developed by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) which are linked to the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and the Asian guidelines for environmentally conscious packaging.

The European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (Europen) has welcomed the initiative and said its members fully back the need for a standardised approach.

“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 the body’s managing director Julian Carroll.

Much-needed benchmark

He said the industry was currently seeing the development of a growing number of these initiatives that sometimes reached different conclusions. This was not always helpful, he added

“Sometimes their goals are contrary to each other and occasionally they don’t make any environmental sense,”​ said Carroll. “The proposed ISO standards could become a much needed benchmark for any proposed regional, national or even local packaging regulation”.

The Europen chief said the Consumer Goods Forum (formerly Global CEO Forum) was currently working on a global packaging project aimed at fostering a harmonised supply chain understanding of common definitions, principles and metrics to provide a framework to measure packaging in the context of the three pillars of sustainability. The organisation has agreed that any principles they adopt will only be approved if they comply with applicable international standards. He said the ISO work was seen as a global underpinning of the Forum’s scheme

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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