Jonathan Garrett, Group Health, Safety and Sustainability Director at Tyman discusses why merchants should opt to partner with suppliers that are prioritising sustainable packaging and practices sooner, rather than later. As environmental issues continue to gain international attention, more businesses are being affected by regulations and responsibilities concerning their sustainability practices. With costly repercussions in place for those not switching to less damaging materials, it is time for all involved in the supply chain to work together to do the right thing for the environment.
It is estimated that UK households throw away 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging a year, according to Statista. Given these alarming statistics, the UK government is going further to implement restrictions on the manufacture of plastics. As such, in November 2022, the UK’s Environment Secretary began discussions with businesses, environmental groups and scientists, to create a global treaty, written into law, to end plastic pollution by 2040.
For a while now, businesses have understood the importance of ridding the world of harmful materials. However, the deadlines are fast approaching, and companies are beginning to see tighter regulations and greater responsibilities. And with costly repercussions should suppliers fail to comply, it is vital to ensure more environmentally viable ways of producing and selling products are pursued.
The Impact of Regulations
There is no doubt that regulations preventing the use of unrecyclable materials are welcome. However, it is paramount that merchants are partnering with suppliers who are taking their responsibilities seriously; to protect the environment, their reputation, and to prevent inflated product costs.
Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) came into force in April 2022. The tax affects companies that import or manufacture 10 or more tonnes of plastic packaging per year should the components contain less than 30% recycled plastics. The current charge amounts to £200 per tonne. It is likely that manufacturers who forgo changes to their production strategies will be forced to pass these tax costs onto merchants and their customers. This stands to cause issues for many businesses that are already contending with hikes in energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis.
Another change of note is the new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, which is being phased in this year. This sees a change in the way companies collect and report data on packaging. Although EPR is mainly concerned with manufacturers, it could also impact the merchant and consumer if the manufacturer fails to move away from packaging that is difficult to recycle, due to the fees they may have to pay, which, much like PPT, may be felt further down the line.
Therefore, it is in the merchant's best interests to work with suppliers that are adapting their packaging to remove plastic altogether, not only to prevent the expense of PPT and EPR, but to pre-empt further changes that are expected as the UK aims to rid itself of plastic waste.
A 2022 report from Deloitte found that 64% of shoppers have limited their consumption of single-use plastics, which includes clamshell packaging, an option often found in many builder’s merchants. However, only 24% of consumers would be willing to pay more for more sustainable packaging. This hints at a reluctance to pay the extra costs inevitably passed down from PPT and EPR.
Consumers are demanding to see change from the top and are much more likely to purchase from environmentally responsible brands. Therefore, it makes sense for merchants to be working with manufacturers and suppliers that are making changes. Not only to help the environmental cause, but to drive down costs that may impact them.
As part of the wider Tyman group, home security solutions specialists, ERA, continues to commit to its goal of achieving 100% sustainable packaging by 2026. With this, the company kicked off 2023 by introducing newly designed cardboard retail packaging that is plastic-free.
This move marks the beginning of ERA’s phasing out of plastic clamshells and bags, as part of Tyman’s 2030 Sustainability Roadmap. Developed following in-depth customer consultations, the new packaging has been designed to ensure that the product remains well protected. Packaging, of course, is only part of the challenge and a holistic approach is needed to minimise a company’s impact across the product lifecycle.
Tyman is therefore aware of its responsibility to improve its sustainability efforts across its products and operations and is eager to support merchants towards the same important goal. And as the world works towards meaningful change in the fight against the climate crisis, businesses should be leading by example to create a plastic-free supply chain. Although this is a big feat, with suppliers and merchants working together, real, sustainable changes can be made.