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3: The Work Process

1.  The first step is to get familiar with the rules. The typical reaction is frustration with these “complicated” rules.

Most companies develop packaging according to “good practice traditions”. Intuitively you use previous experience when developing a new packaging. This causes great frustration when you are presented with the demand for written documentation for a number of factors mentioned in the EU Packaging Directive. Immediately you envisage more employees and extended costs.

2.  After becoming familiar with the rules you review what you have already done. Normally you have already made some kind of optimization process. You collect this information and obtain written documentation. At this point most companies begin to have a more clear vision of the task.

Once the companies engage in the work, they discover that a financial optimization has already been made. Rather quickly most companies discover that most of the documentation either already can be found in the company or with subcontractors, or that the documentation has been quickly sketched out on a piece of paper and not kept.

3.  Then you have to evaluate the existing documentation. Is anything missing? Is the quality of the documentation sufficient for any given public authority in any EU country? Normally this leaves you highly confused. You realize that the rules do not always give a complete answer. Especially the requirements regarding the quality of the minimization process are not very specific.

When the company evaluates their documentation possibilities it is important to be aware of the fact that the authorities require written documentation. That alone makes it obvious that some arguments are not efficient. A typical sales department argument will be: ”If the packaging isn’t a lot larger than the product, we will not be able to sell it.” This argument will not satisfy the authorities. But a letter from a customer - e.g. a supermarket chain - stating that they demand a certain cardboard thickness in order to sell the product will. So save the letter for documentation purposes.

4.  At this stage you will be ready for the daily work of a continuous optimization of all existing and future packaging systems. The reaction is typically positive because of the benefits of fewer damages, less packaging and especially reduced transport volume.

Almost all companies realize once they get this far in the process, that their initial frustration was unjustified. Actually the process has paid up. The surprising thing is, that the company can even profit when putting products through the process which you thought were fully optimized because they have been produced in large quantities for years. Often these products surprisingly enough provide the largest profit for the company.