Know your EPR numbers: why brands need to ensure the figures add up

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Brand owners risk slowing the upward momentum of sustainability without the capacity to turn big data into meaningful action, according to ecoVeritas.

David Harding-Brown, CEO of the packaging data specialist, believes there is a danger that brands’ efforts to reduce their environmental impact will be lost in ‘white noise’ as consumers become disconnected and apathetic to repetitive and cliched sustainability messaging, but still engaged with the principles.

“Sustainability as an umbrella term is becoming meaningless; a series of macro statements that consumers can no longer relate to or engage with,” said David. “Yet, for brand owners, it has never been more important as sweeping new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation comes into force in the E.U and UK. We also know that the environmental credentials of a product or a business still play a key role in consumer purchase decisions, so there is a clear disconnect building.”

EPR for packaging is a policy approach that extends the producer’s responsibility for a product to include the management of its packaging post-consumer use. EPR policies shift the waste management cost or physical collection partially or fully from local governments to producers (mostly brand owners). In 2022, the UK Plastic Packaging Tax will be implemented followed in 2023 by reformation of existing UK Packaging Waste regulations.

Harding-Brown commented: “EPR reform presents the ideal opportunity for brands to rethink their sustainability objectives and move them from an obligation to a core component of commercial strategy. Taking action to analyse and understand in greater detail the impact their packaging and its supply chain has on the environment will enable brands to reduce their costs and ensure compliance in the long-term. Importantly, at the same time, it will also provide unique, valuable data to underline and reinforce the ‘green’ assertions that are still strongly resonating with shoppers.”

With a team bringing together more than 100 years’ experience in the packaging industry, ecoVeritas provides the tools and business intelligence to support brand owners and retailers to make better decisions when it comes to packaging strategy development. The company offers a wide range of services including packaging lifecycle assessments, footprint analysis, cost impact assessments and packaging design optimisation to improve environmental performance.

“As brands seek to ensure their environmental initiatives stand out in a very crowded market, it is vital that they can interpret and apply information they have at hand for commercial advantage,” added Harding-Brown. “Maintaining a competitive business relies on optimal use of data. ecoVeritas can support brands in turning measurable data from being purely focused on corporate social responsibility into meaningful commercial strategy for better business performance at every level.”