15th Apr 2020
That’s 37% of respondents compared to 23% today. This marks a significant change in levels of perceived influence, and while this is understandable, it also risks bottlenecking packaging sustainability and widening the Green Gap that Duo UK’s research has identified.
Growing awareness of government policies
Businesses are taking note of government policies because of ongoing legislative reforms. This involves the introduction of a reformed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for packaging in 2023. The exact scope of this is still to be determined but there’s much speculation it will involve some form of taxation to ‘encourage’ companies to reduce packaging waste and improve sustainability.
Much of this speculation is based on other government policies. From April 2022, businesses producing or importing plastic packaging that use ‘insufficient’ (anything below 30%) recycled content, will be liable to a new tax.
The lack of clarity around the proposed schemes, and a government favouring taxes as its go-to means of instigating societal change, are not conducive to advancing packaging sustainability.
Changes in policy require proper due diligence and consultation, however, the government needs to move faster and to be more definitive. Without consistent and clear communication from the government at regular intervals, which would be welcomed by all stakeholders, this keeps businesses waiting and means years of potential progress are lost.
As well as providing clarity, government policy must also evolve to look at the entire packaging lifecycle. Too much focus is concentrated on the end of packaging life, whether that’s disposal or recycling. Policies need to be more progressive in considering packaging from its point of design and development right through to its performance throughout the supply chain.
Our research shows the majority (43%) of companies want to see the most innovation happening in types of packaging materials in the next decade. Over a third (34%) of respondents think the greatest advances in materials will be in compostable and biodegradable materials. Just 4% are looking for innovation in packaging equipment.
Current policy is, perhaps inadvertently, distorting people’s thinking. Significant efficiencies can be realised through smart technologies, advanced engineering and artificial intelligence that improve equipment and processes. This could reduce energy consumption and enhance resource usage during packaging design and development. Policy needs to support investment in such possibilities and encourage innovation.
For further policy insight, including comment from Sarah Foster, Commercial Director at environmental compliance consultancy Comply Direct, download your free copy of our Future of Packaging report here.