Many of the goods we purchase come in packaging of all shapes and sizes. In 2019, no less than 750,000 tons of industrial packaging was sold in Belgium. They therefore have a major impact on the environment. Fortunately, we see the share of reusable packaging increasing. It is therefore definitely worth investing in circular packaging in your purchasing process.
Circular packaging strategies
Is packaging necessary? Of course you want the goods to be protected against damage and soiling. But that does not always require secondary or tertiary packaging. For example, laptops can be delivered in the carrying bags. Or goods can be delivered in bulk, without having to be extra packed individually.
Minimal use of materials in design: the dimensions of the packaging must be adapted to the goods being transported in it. This means that no unnecessary packaging material is used and no 'packed air' is transported.
Increase the share of recycled content: have a dialogue with the market to avoid putting unrealistic demands in your specifications. By setting your requirements high you can also stimulate innovation. Make a distinction between post-consumer and post-production material.
Increase the share of biobased content: choose packaging material from renewable raw materials such as paper and cardboard or bioplastics.
Reduce the logistical impact: include criteria for transport (vehicles, number of deliveries, routes,…)
Standardized design: standardized packaging can have a positive impact on logistics and potential reuse. It is important that the dimensions are geared to the size of the goods.
Contractual arrangements for return and reuse: You can request in your specifications that the supplier takes back the packaging upon delivery and targets reuse.
Reversed logistics: Do you have a contract with your supplier to take back end-of-life products? Then let him take it with him in the empty, reusable packaging after delivery of new goods.
Contractual arrangements for return and recycling: You can request in your specifications that the supplier takes back the packaging for recycling. You can also conclude a contract with a certified collector and/or processor. Request guarantees for high-quality recycling, so that the chain is effectively closed.
Reducing toxicity: toxic substances in packaging hamper recycling. this can be inks, plasticizers , etc. The REACH legislation only applies to the use of chemicals within the EU. It is therefore important to require that these are not used for the packaging of your goods if they come from outside the EU.
Insight into materials: the packaging is best made of 1 type of material or of mono-material components that are easy to separate from each other (not glued, stapled, etc.). The composition is also best stated on the packaging.
Food & Beverage Packaging
There are specific regulations for packaging that come into contact with foodstuffs. Since January 2020, there has also been legislation for event organizers and local authorities for drink and food packaging. You can read more about it on the OVAM webpage (in Dutch).