Incpen, the Industry Council for research on Packaging & the Environment, has produced a guide that helps manufacturers, retailers and pack designers tackle the problem of Unintentional Product Residue (UPR).
The council is keen to raise awareness of UPR, which is the waste in a pack which a consumer either cannot get out, or cannot be bothered to get out or does not know is there.
Following a proposal made by Boots UK to help understanding of the issue, Incpen and Wrap – the Waste and Resource Action Programme - commissioned a study by Leatherhead Food Research. This identified the reasons why UPR occurs for a number of products widely used by consumers and the steps that producers should consider to prevent it.
Leatherhead examined 362 samples covering a range of regularly used foods, cosmetics, toiletries, cleaning products and DIY products. Significantly, more than two-thirds contained less than 1% UPR, while only 7% had more than 5%.
UPR can have both negative economic and reputational implications. Residues are an environmental and financial cost as the unused product wastes the raw materials, water and energy that were used to produce it and this has an impact on the cost of manufacturing, processing and distribution.
Equally important, consumer attitudes towards a brand may be affected if they are aware that they cannot get all the product out and therefore feel cheated. Residues can also hinder recycling and reduce the yield of recycled material.
“Nearly all of us will have experienced the frustration of not being able to access ‘the last bit' of product,” said Incpen director Jane Bickerstaffe.
“Many manufacturers already minimise UPR. Our guide supports their initiatives with advice on steps that can be taken in the early stages of product development.”