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Standout sustainability changes in the year ahead

As the government continues to introduce new policies to improve the sustainability of business operations, Kerri Nadel, Sustainability Programme Manager at ERA, discusses one of the key areas for 2022 and the implications for window and door manufacturers’ supply chains

There are many ways in which businesses can make their operations more sustainable – which areas are the government focusing on over the next 12 months and what legislative changes do window and door manufacturers need to be aware of?

Plastic and packaging are going to be key. In order to successfully achieve its 2050 net zero ambitions, the government is introducing two new policies, which represent a major overhaul of waste packaging regulations.

The new Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme will help to minimise waste pollution, whilst encouraging manufacturers to utilise more sustainable product packaging that is responsibly sourced.

These legislative updates do not directly affect the packaging of window and door manufacturers’ own products, however it is crucial that business owners partner with suppliers who are complying with these changes, to enhance the sustainability of their operations throughout the entire supply chain.

What is the Plastic Packaging Tax and who will it apply to?

Set to be enforced from 1 April 2022, the PPT will impact around 20,000 manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging throughout the UK.

Levied at £200 per metric tonne of plastic packaging that contains less than 30% recycled plastic, the new tax has significant implications for businesses that import over 10 metric tonnes of plastic throughout a 12 month period.

Companies that do not comply will be faced with civil and criminal penalties if they fail to register, file returns or complete payments. Businesses operating under the 10 metric tonne threshold will also need to maintain a record of the frequency and weight of plastic being imported, to evidence to HMRC that they are operating below the tax threshold.


What is Extended Producer Responsibility and who will it apply to?

The introduction of EPR means that the cost and responsibility for managing packaging waste will move from shared responsibility to a single point of responsibility in the supply chain. The aim of the regulation is to reduce the quantity of packaging being produced, whilst increasing the volume of recycled packaging being used.

Phase 1 will not be introduced until the beginning of 2023. However, businesses will have to report to the government on household packaging produced throughout 2022, including door and window manufacturers, who will have a responsibility to include this data as part of the reporting of their procurement and supply chain operations.

It’s therefore extremely important that business owners forge relationships with suppliers who are already working to fulfil their responsibilities with regard to PPT and EPR.

How can manufacturers identify sustainable suppliers to partner with?

These legislative updates provide window and door manufacturers with an opportunity to collaborate with suppliers to increase the level of recycled plastic within their packaging, whilst simultaneously reducing the level of packaging required.

To achieve this, hardware suppliers should be working closely with customers to assess how improvements can be made. This includes adjusting procurement practices, such as bulk ordering, which can minimise packaging waste, by reducing the frequency and volume of wrapping that is required. Another area that can be addressed is the role of tertiary packaging, such as wrap and ballet banding, to understand how this type of wrapping can be reduced, without damaging the product when in transit.

ERA is currently working in close partnership with door and window manufacturers as part of its ‘minimise, eliminate, replace’ strategy. The business is optimising the use of sustainable materials across all packaging, in addition to removing plastic from display packaging. Where plastic cannot be removed entirely, recycled material will be chosen.

By applying the principles of the circular economy, ERA is also working in conjunction with manufacturers to return as much waste packaging to its own sites, whilst also exploring reusable packaging options. This forms part of ERA’s commitment to achieving 100% sustainable packaging by 2026, an obligation it committed to prior to the introduction of the PPT and EPR. It has also pledged to eliminate waste to landfill by the same year.

By working with hardware suppliers that are implementing product packaging changes as part of a proactive sustainability strategy, door and window manufacturers can be confident that this element of their supply chain is supporting their own sustainability ambitions. Only by joining together to minimise the environmental impact of how we all do business can we achieve a sustainable future for all.