Composite image for the Open 3P standard showing a workshop table with two people with marker pens with overlays of a lorry, a punnet of tomatoes and compacted plastic bales. On top of this are the overlays of plastics molecules

Open 3P: An open standard for the plastic packaging industry

After over a year of development we are delighted to launch the Open 3P data standard for the plastic packaging industry. Created in collaboration with our project partners Dsposal, OPRL, Recoup and Ecosurety and supported by Innovate UK’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) fund.

The standard allows all actors within the plastic packaging value chain, from manufacturers through to recyclers, to exchange data with regulators and each other with confidence using commonly applied terminology and metrics.

World first

The data standard is believed to be a world-first, laying out an innovative and granular new way to record and share packaging data including material type, additives, format, size, shape, recycled content and recyclability. With new regulations such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) being brought in next year, where obligated producers will be required to report more detailed data on the packaging they put on the market, standardising data across the industry is crucial.

As well as enabling easier reporting to regulators, the ability to share data up and down the packaging chain enables increased process efficiencies through de-duplication of effort, enhanced discovery of materials on market leading to accelerated innovation, more accurate material tagging and effective waste streaming. Allowing actors within the chain to exchange data on their products with increased confidence enables the production of higher quality recyclates, the reduction of raw material dependency and less plastic packaging being discarded into the environment.

Driven by industry

Even though the development of a data standard is a technical process, the majority of our work has been listening to people whose everyday is plastics packaging – from industry experts and materials scientists to government regulators. This ‘user research’ allowed us to understand the reality and challenges of an industry that is continually innovating and striving to become more environmentally responsible. Our user research and data team published a series of blog posts around our user research process and the development of the data standard here

The Open 3P data standard is open and free to use by anyone developing applications, processes and insights into the plastic packaging value chain. It is owned and maintained by Open Data Manchester CIC a not-for-profit, asset locked organisation that manages and maintains the standard on behalf of diverse group of industry stakeholders.

The standard and its documentation can be found here

Open 3P next generation

Over the next 12 months we will be expanding the Open 3P data standard to encapsulate other packaging materials such as metals, wood and glass and are looking for people and organisations to guide the process. If you feel that utilising a data standard would turbo charge your operations, saving money, reducing waste and helping the environment – get involved here.