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5 Key Principles When Labeling and Packaging Your Goods

In the past, the major consideration for exporters has been the legislative requirements surrounding the disposal of packaging waste. Driven by the European Union (EU), member countries have developed stringent legislation governing the disposal of packaging waste.

The burden falls on those responsible for bringing the products to their market, so the onus is on exporters and their importing agents to comply with legislation or face the risk of being fined.

In recent years, the issue of chemical migration from food contact packaging has escalated resulting in some countries banning particular chemicals in packaging materials. This trend is likely to continue with increasing pressure on governments to prohibit certain chemicals in packaging materials.

All exporters should take care to understand the exact chemical make-up of the packaging materials they are exporting to avoid the risk of using materials which contain prohibited chemicals.

Increasingly, however, the considerations facing exporters are expanding beyond purely legislative requirements.

Global work such as the Consumer Goods Forum’s ‘A Global Language for Packaging and Sustainability,’ ISO standards ‘Packaging and the Environment‘ and work around harmonising product category rules (PCR’s) and environmental product declarations (EPD’s) provide platforms for measurement and reporting of packaging addressing environmental issues surrounding the choice of packaging, the processing of packaging, the transportation of packaging and finally the disposal of packaging waste.

Exporters are expected to be able to provide an ever greater level of transparency in their own operations to meet the environmental credentials of global supply. Not being able to meet these reporting demands has the potential to be just as much of a trade barrier as not meeting local legislation.

Consistent with other developed economies, New Zealand is looking to provide guidelines for packaging from an environmental perspective. To facilitate this objective the Packaging Council of NZ (Inc) developed a Code of Practice for Packaging Design, Education and Procurement. It draws on international indices to provide performance indicators and associated metrics covering the packaging supply chain and aligns with the global standards and frameworks for packaging reporting.

Key Environmental Packaging Principles

  1. Good packaging design should prevent more waste than it creates.
  2. Packaging should be designed to meet market and consumer needs while minimising net environmental impact in a cost-effective way.
  3. Packaging should be designed to minimise the use of materials and other resources without compromising product quality, safety and economic viability.
  4. Materials should be selected incorporating a whole-of-life approach.
  5. Packaging should be designed to minimise the environmental and social impacts of its disposal.

Labelling

Successful resource re-use, recovery and recycling can be greatly enhanced by providing relevant on-pack information.

However, the proliferation of “Green” Claims has led many jurisdictions to make changes in relevant consumer law imposing strict guidelines on claims related to perceived environmental benefit, including end-of-life disposal. Your importing agent or retail customer should be able to advise you where there are specific requirements.

However, it is also recommended that specific legal advice should also be sought regarding the relevant consumer law in the jurisdiction where the products will be sold in before any ‘claims’ are made.

Bar codes are a necessity for retailing and it is easy to obtain comprehensive information on their use from GS1 New Zealand http://www.gsinz.org. There is a move towards using bar-coding for outer packages as well as for tracking through the supply chain.

Be aware that there are sometimes specific requirements for barcoding depending on the product (e.g. availability of scannable ‘best before’ or ‘lot’ information), the country (e.g. for liquor in Canada) or the trading partner (e.g. in New Zealand, major retailers require a verification test result to demonstrate that the barcode will scan first time, every time).

Radio Frequency ID (RFID) is innovative technology applying to large quantities. Each item has a small radio ID unit that gives easy access to tracking and inventory information. These are becoming quite cost effective and are required by some of the large overseas distributors/retailers. A good source of information is www.rfidjournal.com.

Source: Packaging Council of NZ

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