New ISO Global Packaging Standards & ASTM E60 Committee on Sustainability

Posted on 3/5/2013 2:19:12 PM By Jeff Timm

In my whole career with packaging, I have learned about and employed what I call the ‘packaging mantra’ or the six ‘R’s’ of packaging...

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Refill
  • Recycle
  • Reclaim
  • Replace

Years ago these were empirical pragmatic goals without much empirical data.  Today there are systems and procedures being developed and in place to quantify these goals into a cohesive optimum package design.  Global standards on packaging and sustainability were recently addressed by the International Standards Organization (ISO) Global Standards on Packaging and the Environment and the ASTM E60 Committee on Sustainability.

The ISO standard 18601:2013 Packaging and the environment - general requirements for the use of ISO standards in the field of packaging and the environment effort began in 2009 when ISO formed a subcommittee on packaging and the environment to develop a voluntary common set of requirements for compliance standards that would harmonize the vast amount of effort focused on environmental packaging issues.  As is the case with the Global Protocol on Packaging Sustainability 2.0 (GPPS 2.0) and the European CEN standards, these ISO standards are aligned with the aforementioned to be employed at the critical package design stage by using six elements of responsible packaging development.  They are:

  • ISO 18601 - Umbrella standard
  • ISO 18602 - Package optimization
  • ISO 18603 - Reuse
  • ISO 18604 - Material recovery
  • ISO 18605 - Energy recovery
  • ISO 18606 - Organic recovery

iso 18601 umbrella, packaging standards, astm, iso

One significant upgrade in these standards over existing protocols is defining packaging recoverability by the type of recycled material.   Materials which may impede recycling are listed in the standard.  In fact France and Ontario, Canada have used “disruptor” fees to charge more for items containing disruptor materials in their recovery processes.

ASTM Committee E60 on Sustainability was initiated to serve as the all encompassing technical committee to deal with environmental, social and economic challenges and develop diverse consensus across multiple industry sectors dealing with sustainability.  The committee was chartered to be a resource for other ASTM technical committee sustainability issues.  Additionally, the development of terminology and general principles that are applicable to multiple industry sectors are also part of the technical committee charter.  Some existing ASTM committees dealing with sustainability were transferred to be under the E60 umbrella.  There are three E60 technical sub-committees:

  • E60.01 on building and construction
  • E60.02 on hospitality
  • E60.03 on general sustainability standards

Market segments the sub-committees are already addressing:

  • Building and construction
  • Green meetings and events
  • Consumer products
  • Hospitality
  • Agriculture
  • Healthcare
  • Water management
  • Other

All this focus bringing order to chaos bodes well for the packaging market and for the overriding goal of reducing the environmental impact of packaging.  For it all to succeed packaging designers must incorporate these standards and think of end-of-life options when selecting packaging materials and design.

Related Links:

ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)

ASTM Committee E60 on Sustainability ASC TV – ASTM E60 Committee on Sustainability

The Global Protocol on Packaging Sustainability 2.0 (GPPS 2.0)

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

ISO 18601:2013 Packaging and the environment - General requirements for the use of ISO standards in the field of packaging and the environment

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