The headlines of our times are enough to make anyone feel helpless.
The EU and the UK generate 92 million tonnes of packaging annually. Managing waste has become a seemingly insurmountable challenge as the global population grows and consumption increases.
Green products are as plentiful as businesses that define themselves as socially responsible.
Our definition of responsible corporate behaviour has been too narrow and timid for too long. We’ve often glorified our efforts to be less bad, hailing them as examples of important change. We’ve cloaked our irresponsible behaviour with cause-related marketing campaigns and celebrated progress that was often little more than compliance with existing regulations.
Certainly, corporate responsibility is more visible than ever before. It delivers good press; even sceptics can see that environmental improvements and energy efficiencies reduce costs. Business is one sector that must help build a better future; Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) give us a reason to hope.
Good news: the solutions to our problems already exist.
Great news: a once-in-a-generation appetite for change means we can make them happen.
By seeking to contribute to the well-being of society and the environment as well as their bottom line, businesses can seize on a more resilient operating model than the profit-first strategies currently in use.
Stay positive, work hard.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
We fully concede that many companies, perhaps even most, won’t willingly alter their behaviour. But they will change, nonetheless, and it won’t be because they’ve suddenly seen the light. It will be because of the massive number of consumers, a spreading swarm of competitors, values-driven employees, and even government legislation, that they decide to change.
European and UK governments are responding with legislation and action to tackle the issue, but it can only work if the whole system works – companies need to react properly. From New EPR regulations across Europe to Plastic Taxes now in force and deposit return schemes for drinks containers, packaging producers will be expected to bear the Full Net Cost of the packaging they place on the market.
But this is complex and data-intensive work. Many businesses face big data challenges when understanding their compliance obligations for a geographic region. While some countries request no or limited data and financial contributions relating to EPR, others often require detailed data submissions. This means if you don’t have the necessary data, or it is not precise enough, there could be large cost implications at stake.
SMEs, in particular, who are getting captured by the regulations will struggle to rise to the challenge more than large companies with the resources to engage. Individual obligated companies’ compliance costs could increase between six and 20 times depending on the final design of the new system.
With the European Directive on packaging and packaging waste requiring all member states to implement EPR for all packaging by the end of 2024, it is clear that European EPR policies will only become more complex. Thankfully, our mission is to make it easy for companies to understand their obligations, comply, and respond appropriately through reduction, substitution and recycling.
Monitor, manage, minimise
The world economy defies comprehension. A continuously-changing system of immense complexity, it offers over ten billion distinct products and services, doubles in size every fifteen years, and links almost every one of the planet's eight billion people. It delivers astonishing luxury to hundreds of millions. It also leaves hundreds of millions behind, strains the ecosystem tremendously, and has an alarming habit of stalling. Nobody is in charge. Indeed, no individual understands more than a fraction of what's happening.
In matters of public health and much else, fact-gathering and statistical analyses can be vital for good. And data draws on humanity’s deep capacity for cooperation to offer a new way forward.
Simple things become complicated when you expect too much.
And when it comes to EPR data, these often newly established data sets must be ‘as accurate as reasonably possible’ and retained for seven years.
For every complex problem, there is an answer.
Ecoview is an online sustainability tool created by Ecoveritas that combines technology with data, providing our customers with key business intelligence to help make informed packaging decisions. By consolidating bill of materials data into one organised, clear and user-friendly space, Ecoview provides instant access to your packaging data allowing for efficient management of future technical and sustainability packaging requirements.
The approach provides customers with immediate access to accurate packaging and sustainability data and the functionality to manage compliance and packaging optimisation within one automated workflow.
Every great transformation requires a new story; a story that reveals new possibilities and points toward an optimistic alternative to the current situation. Ecoview presents such a story and will be a key tool in responding to the waste challenge. When ideas change, our future changes with them.
Sandy Dhesi works as commercial manager at Ecoveritas.