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Packaging Design Requirements

In addition to the cost and environmental impact associated with packaging waste, increased concern over consumer safety and protection has helped shape design and labeling requirements in different countries. Many countries have adopted regulations relating to misleading advertising of products as "environmentally friendly," deceptive environmental labeling, and proper material coding. As of February 2005, more than 30 countries have environmental packaging design requirements including regulations on toxics in packaging, empty space and source reduction, recycled content, environmental labeling, and packaging prevention planning.

The European Directive
The European Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste, first passed in 1994 and amended in 2004, has some of the most comprehensive requirements focused on reducing packaging waste. In addition to providing the framework and recovery and recycling goals for many of the producer responsibility schemes discussed in the previous section, the Directive sets standards known as the Essential Requirements (ERs). All companies who sell products in European Union (EU) Member States must comply with below outlined EU Packaging Regulations:
All packaging placed on the EU market must be in compliance with the Essential Requirements. Products that are found not to comply may be removed from the market. US companies must incorporate the ERs into their packaging design systems and document how each standard was considered into its packaging design protocol.

The assessment process to prove compliance with the ERs is similar to ISO14000 requirements in that it establishes a framework for evaluating the attributes of a packaging system (and identifying areas for improvement) with respect to the requirements of the law. The European standards have been developed to provide a common procedure for assessing and documenting compliance. The amended directive requires that all EU member states enforce the Ers by 2005.

Packaging Design Requirements Environmental Labeling Requirements
Environmental labeling requirements include recycling symbols, ecolabels, material codes, licensed marks such as the Green Dot used to show participation in a recovery scheme, and many others. These labels, of which some are voluntary and others mandatory, provide information to the consumer. Material coding is required for plastics in Austria, Taiwan, and 39 US States, and for all materials in eleven other nations. In certain EU member states, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, there are also other country-specific mandatory labels. Design mandates focus on areas such as material restrictions, recycled content, empty space, and layers; specific requirements vary by country.

Material Restrictions and Recycled Content
South Korea currently bans packaging press packed, coated or shrink-wrapped in PVC and several countries are expected to charge more for PVC packaging than other plastic material. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is also on the material watch list, and South Korea has forbidden its use in packaging of toys, dolls, and composite products. Phase-out requirements apply to EPS in the packaging of electrical, office IT, and audio-visual appliances.

the environment and human health. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Japan have restrictions on the use of phthalates (DEHP, DINP) in certain types of food packaging, as well as toys and other child care products. In addition to regulatory bans, many retailers around the globe (especially in Asia and Europe) refuse to accept products packaged in polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Some US states have established minimum recycled content standards for plastic (CA, OR, WI), glass containers (CA, OR), plastic trash bags (CA), and newspapers (27 states). France and Denmark both provide a fee reduction for certain materials if the recycled content is greater than 50%. Unfortunately, in countries without such discounts, the use of recycled content may actually increase the weight or volume of a component, thus increasing fees.

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