Food and beverage producers are some of the businesses hit the hardest by the UK's complex and constantly changing regulations on packaging waste. Thinking of one of the pivotal items in a British kitchen, a box of tea, it’s not difficult to see why. There’s the tea bag within a paper wrapper, stacked together in a carton package, wrapped in a foil bag, packaged in a cardboard box that, finally, gets covered in cellophane.
The responsibilities of the food and beverage industry
With growing awareness of the environmental harm of packaging waste, the days of thoughtless packaging are over. Food and beverage businesses that qualify as “obligated packaging producers” have been called upon to make some major changes. These include:
- Adapting their processes and packaging models to reduce waste.
- Recording the total weight of mixed packaging waste material, the weight and composition of each packaging material individually, the supplier that each of the materials came from, and where waste materials are sent to.
- Analysing the data to illustrate that they are meeting requirements.
- Producing and submitting reports on waste levels once a quarter.
- Keeping information stored for a minimum of 4 years.
How do I know if I’m an obligated packaging producer?
Food and beverage producers qualify as ‘obligated’ packaging producers if they, or a group of companies they’re part of ,handled 50 tonnes of packaging materials or packaging in the previous calendar year. Any packaging handled by businesses licenced by your business, such as franchises, or pub leases, may contribute towards the 50-tonne threshold.
Producers that have a turnover of less than £2 million a year (based on the last financial year’s accounts) are exempt.
What items qualify as packaging material?
“…any material used to hold, protect, handle, deliver and present goods. This includes packaging for raw materials right through to finished goods to be sold or being sold. For example, pallets, boxes, bags, tape for wrapping, rolls, tubes and clothes hangers sold as part of the clothing item.”
Packaging waste compliance
Under this regulation, producers are made responsible for the environmental impact of the packaging materials and processes they choose to apply. Most relevant to F&B businesses are the requirements to:
- Reduce the waste arising from packaging materials, specifically by using recycled materials and promoting re-use of materials.
- Improve the design of F&B products to reduce the amount of material required and enhance the reusability and recyclability of packaging waste.
To prove compliance, obligated packaging producers must adhere to the following requirements on an annual basis:
- register as a packaging producer by 7 April
- meet their recovery and recycling obligation
- obtain evidence of compliance
- submit a certificate of compliance (CoC) by 31 January the following year
The software solution to packaging waste
While packaging waste regulations can be a big headache for manufacturers, compliance doesn’t have to keep you up at night. The solution is as simple as adding a Packaging Waste software module onto your core ERP system. Once configured for the range of packaging materials used in your warehouse, data recording and statistical reporting becomes fully automated.
Once-off configuration entails logging packaging materials into the system as a product. Each material is identified by a product code and described according to size, weight, the composition of materials, and the suppliers where materials originate from. A range of additional selection codes is available to record unique information if needed.
Once the data is associated with a particular packaging material, purchases and sales of that material get recorded. Fulfilling quarterly reporting requirements become as simple as pulling up a product report: selecting the reporting period, the facilities and areas to report on, the relevant product categories (e.g. glass, paper, plastic), and voila!
Because food and beverage regulations are complex and constantly changing, Lakeview makes use of industry consultants to customise their systems for each client’s particular requirements.
Should the legislation change regarding the particular information that needs to be included, Lakeview’s expert consultants update the reporting criteria in the system, to reflect the latest changes. Data fields that have been added or adjusted in the system will become active in the users’ systems immediately to ensure compliance with the most recent regulations without skipping a beat.
Software tailored to the needs of the F&B industry
The food and beverage industry has unique, yet highly essential software requirements, of which packaging waste is just one. If you’re getting blank stares from your current provider when requesting features such as shelf life, batch traceability and catch weight, it’s time to consider an industry-specific ERP and provider.