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New Guidance Document Reviews Global Packaging Materials Definitions

Plastic water bottles

The American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN) has issued a guidance document aimed at improving the clarity and alignment of definitions for packaging materials and management processes. AMERIPEN is a coalition of companies covering the entire supply chain spectrum, from producers to end-of-life materials managers. The new guide, “Packaging Materials Management Definitions: A Review of Varying Global Standards,” reviews and compares definitions for common packaging attributes and processes.

“As more brands work toward ambitious 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable goals tied to packaging attributes, understanding how those attributes are defined – and how they affect validation of claims – is instrumental,” states AMERIPEN in a press release about the guide. In addition, the guide states that differences between definitions can create trade and marketing obstacles.

Noting that there are 18 different definitions of recycling across the U.S., and even more globally, AMERIPEN points out that terms such as “recyclable,” “reusable,” “compostable,” “renewable” and “recycled content” impact the establishment of goals, influence policy and regulations, and affect material and design strategies. The legal hierarchy of packaging definitions, according to the guide, is: 1) regulatory documents; 2) International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards and guidance; 3) technical standards; and 4) association, organization or agency definitions. This hierarchy is intended as a resource to help an organization decide which definition to use.