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Unleash the power of packaging data with the new Open 3P Data Standard

The brand-new Open 3P Data Standard is a common language for all commonly used packaging materials – created to help improve the industry’s understanding of packaging being produced – so that we can reduce its environmental footprint.

In September last year, after more than a year of collaborative work, we unveiled a world-first data standard to support efficient and consistent data capture, sharing and reporting on plastic packaging, developed with funding from UK Research & Innovation.

Now, with further input from more than 100 stakeholders and the support of a consortium of industry partners comprising Dsposal, Ecosurety, OPRL and RECOUP, this standard has been expanded to cover all common packaging materials, including glass, metals, paper, fibre-based composites and wood.

The aim is to help everyone involved in manufacturing, selling and recycling packaging – from soup cartons to sealant cartridges – to collate and share packaging data with each other, with regulators and with government, in order to help the industry comply with current and forthcoming environmental legislation.

Given that the Extended Producer Responsibility legislation required organisations to collate and report more data on the packaging they put onto the market from 1 January this year, the standard could help reduce this administrative burden, and facilitate and speed up routine supply-chain data requests.

“Open 3P provides a framework and a ‘common language’ to allow the packaging supply chain and its customers to share compatible packaging data easily, quickly, and cost effectively,” explains Julian Tait, CEO of Open Data Manchester, the independent, not-for-profit organisation that is developing the standard on behalf of the industry.

“It doesn’t store information, it simply provides a consistent ‘recipe’ that everyone can follow in collating their packaging data.”

You can find the Open 3P Data Standard and more information on how to use it here. To get to grips with the standard, join one of our industry workshops here.

What the industry says

UK paperboard packaging firm Colpac Ltd has been closely involved in the development of the standard.

“Over the last year, Colpac has closely supported the development of the Open 3P Data Standard and data sharing platform,” explains Colpac’s Compliance & QA Manager Frances Dickman. “We have successfully tested the prototype standard and are now running full trials using data specific to our range of sustainable food packaging.

“We are very excited by the prospect of a shared standard. This will allow stakeholders across our packaging supply chain to easily collect and share detailed and regularly reviewed data, making the process more streamlined and efficient. We hope the data standard will also support our customers as we continue to innovate with materials and packaging formats to increase the recyclability of our products.”

Luke Wilson, Compliance and Data Services Director at Ecosurety, adds: “We fully support the goals of the Open 3P DataStandard to bring more consistency and transparency to the data that’s put out into the market. Data is the cornerstone to progress on more sustainable packaging and as well as being aligned to the ongoing packaging legislation reforms, the standard has the potential to support and accelerate wider change towards a UK circular economy.”

Why use open standards for packaging data?

Open Standards are free-to-adopt, implement and extend, and are usually developed and maintained through consensus and collaboration.

They are already widely used – just think of HTML, the standard global markup language for creating web pages – and have driven transformational change in areas including open banking and government IT.

For ease of use, the Open 3P standard has been designed to be flexible, with tiered layers of information. Users can start with a simple description of the packaging, such as its core material, and build in more detail as necessary, or as additional information becomes available.

This might include different barrier film layers and adhesives, for example, or components such as plastic caps, sealing strips, nozzles and ring pulls. Other key data categories include end-of-life management options and external identifiers, such as product codes and chemical identifiers.

If widely adopted, the project partners believe Open 3P could also help to lower the environmental footprint of packaging by promoting a better understanding of the composition of packaging formats in the supply chain, improving recycling and making it easier to identify other areas where sustainability can be improved.

Better and more granular data on plastic packaging will be integral to the success of the UN resolution to end plastic pollution – and project lead Dsposal is responding to interest in the standard from a number of countries.

Following its launch, the standard will now be safeguarded and maintained by Open Data Manchester, and overseen by an independent Standard Custodian Body made up of packaging-industry stakeholders.