Packaging Legislation – bureaucracy or solution?

* 3 min read
In over 20 years working in the packaging industry I have never seen so many packaging legislative changes or enhancements as we’re currently seeing. I’m not saying legislation is a bad thing, quite the opposite to be honest, but it does create real challenges for all of us.

Regional, country specific legislative changes are complex enough however take a moment to appreciate the pain global brands and retailers face. Virtually all global regions are busy introducing packaging legislation of their own creating a highly complex situation and in some cases country specific legislation is contradictory. On top of everything, just to throw more complexity in the mix, there’s recycling / end-of-life labelling! There are no consistent global / European requirements for recycling, all countries (and sometimes regions / states) have different requirements and infrastructures. What we can recycle here in the UK is not the same as France or The Netherlands never mind Asia, the Middle East or North America. No wonder this is a headache for many.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been concerned about waste and pollution and since starting in packaging as a Packaging Development Manager, I’ve been passionate about protecting the environment.


I believe we all have a responsibility as human beings to do what we can to preserve and protect the world we live in.

Gillian Garside-Wight

We must reverse the damage already done to our planet and there is no better day than today to start. Thankfully I am not alone and many us of are ‘trying’ to do the right thing, however, despite good intentions it’s very difficult to actually know what the right thing to do is.

We’ve worked with many clients on sustainability legislation projects from UK brands to global brands and retailers and confusion and uncertainty are normal so if this is how you feel right now then you are not alone! Please don’t wait for your competitors to move first, if you do you’ll be left behind not only through competitive advantage but also financially. Doing nothing could mean you’re stung with much higher taxes and / or fines, equally waiting for others to move first means you would likely face challenges in securing more sustainable solutions. Post consumer recyclate (PCR) is currently in high demand; competing for PCR at the last minute to avoid Plastic Taxes and eco-modulated fees will most definitely be a lottery that not many will secure.

We have all seen the consequences of last minute decisions, such as Brexit where trade deals are still on-going and very little clarity is in place for product regulations. All these unfortunately lead to economic challenges for businesses. The difference with packaging legislation is you are in control, so make it count. My advice is always to act now but focus on future requirements, understand legislation, establish strictest regimes now and in the future, then prioritise.

It might feel like legislation is going to hurt us commercially and slow down innovation with bureaucracy and red-tape but it could also drive innovation and make us work collaboratively for the greater good… surely that can only be a good thing?

About the author

imageedit 1 6168940299Gillian Garside-Wight - Sustainability Partner

Gillian leads our consulting offer, with over 20 years’ experience in the print and packaging industry, strategically developing packaging strategies, roadmaps and packaging solutions to meet the needs of clients and consumers / end users. She has worked with a number of global retailers and household brands on projects spanning sustainability and innovation to supply chain optimisation.  With a real passions for sustainable packaging, her quest is to inform and drive a circular economy wherever possible while complementing creativity and technical functionality but never forgetting commercial requirements. 

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