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Ecoveritas - Monitoring supply chain standards are critical to a greener future

Monitoring supply chain standards are critical to a greener future

Pollution from plastic pollution is not something that consumers can tackle alone - it requires a collective and collaborative approach, one in which brands, retailers, and their respective packaging suppliers need to get involved, writes Kathy Illingworth, Head of Sustainability Consulting at Ecoveritas.

Here at Ecoveritas, we'd love to tell you that most brands, retailers, and suppliers surpass their recycled content, recyclability, and reduction targets and are ready to start assessing the best environmental options for their packaging portfolio.

ecoveritas kathy captionThe fact that just 992 UK businesses registered to pay the new tax on plastic packaging, despite HMRC estimating as many as 20,000 companies would be affected, has laid bare a startling lack of awareness.

We expected many people who are part of the plastic supply chain to be significantly impacted. However, that doesn't appear to be the case. Much of the confusion is down to a lack of alignment with packaging regulations, the 10-tonne threshold, and establishing where the final substantial point of manufacture is.

Thorough due diligence of supply chains in anticipation of PPT would have clearly defined this. Importantly, businesses can be held jointly liable with suppliers or customers who fail to pay the tax correctly.

You only have to look at the situation at Boohoo, which HMRC charged for some polybags for which it does not have the certificate to confirm the recycled content. Boohoo has covered the cost of any HMRC charge so far but plans on transitioning that responsibility "in the near future." The online fashion retailer even went as far as sourcing a nominated global supplier that produces 100% certified recycled material and recyclable packaging. At the same time, they extended an option of continuing to use independent suppliers, as long as they could certify that the poly bags they use were at least 50% recycled material, made from LDPE (low-density polyethylene) only and several other standards.

In the future, Boohoo are requiring suppliers to provide 1) the polybag supplier name and contact details, including a monthly report; 2) certification of recycled content - either Global Recycled Standard (GRS) or Standard Global Services (SGS) certification); and 3) confirmation of the percentage of recycled content (over 50% minimum). Simply put, the ripples are starting to be felt.

Sharing is caring

With 1,100 suppliers on Boohoo's books, this is precisely why prioritising collaborative relationships with suppliers, where data is shared early and often, is an absolute necessity.

Real-time retail is the key to solving the massive disruption in the supply chain and packaging data has fast become a key spoke in the wheel. The trend of cooperation is accelerating, perhaps boosted by the challenges of the pandemic and the obligations associated with multiplying legislation.

ecoveritas logo2 copyCollecting, collating, and submitting data to ensure your business complies with a myriad of packaging waste regulations can be a daunting and complex task. From assessing your business activities and packaging flows and identifying what packaging is obligated to collecting and sorting relevant packaging data, completing your data form, and providing a methodology statement for use at audits, the work is unrelenting.

Ecoview, our versatile digital platform, makes transparency and compliance a much simpler task. The system is designed to make technical and sustainable packaging management simple and more value-adding for brands, retailers and their supply chains.

Ecoview brings online analysis, audit and reporting technologies together in one place – with an intuitive user dashboard that ensures every business has access to packaging data at every level, from the top line to granular.

Whether your priority is to reduce the plastic in packaging, increase the recycled content, or even figure out where to start with plastic packaging, it all begins with opening a dialogue with suppliers. This catalyst sets everything else in motion, from conveying accurate information about degradability and recyclability to tackling waste, increasing recycled content, and collaborating on solutions to reduce plastic use.