We understand how daunting it can be to comply with the Packaging Waste Regulations for the first time.
Many obligated producers are unsure how to gather all of the necessary information, work out what internal processes need to be put in place, and then how to maintain the accurate and up-to-date methodologies.
For one of our members with continuously changing product lines, the task of gathering data for the packaging data submissions has not always been a simple one – yet they have managed to take control of the process to ensure it is a headache no longer.
Emma Buff, Quality Manager at Gardman, has kindly agreed to share some key insights and learnings about how she has worked to transform internal processes to allow for a much more accurate and thorough data set. So, let’s see what we can learn from this shining example of ‘producer compliance done right’!
Emma, tell me about the internal systems you had in place to handle your compliance reporting when you first took the role.
We had a very basic product database where much of the waste information was either incomplete or had never been updated. When it came to completing the annual declaration much of the stock had to be manually weighed or checked, which had a high cost implication.
How did you identify what needed to be changed?
I did some random spot checks and looked at figures that looked out of place. All figures were meant to show the weight per single item of empty packaging, but I found data for one box which apparently weighed 200kg when empty! I then thought it was best to look at all the stock again and start from scratch so that we knew all the information was correct.
How did you implement those changes?
I took a full list of our current SKU codes, grouped them together by packaging type and then did a Pareto calculation. This meant that instead of weighing 135 individual garden furniture covers, which all come in the same bags, we could weigh just one. This obviously cut down the workload and made the process more efficient.
Though it was a time consuming exercise to classify them in this way, it really helped me to appreciate the stock and the effect of packaging on our warehouse. Packaging weights are now part of our Product Specifications and weight checks are done by our QC staff at a much higher level of accuracy.
What were the biggest challenges you faced during the process and how did you overcome them?
Reducing the 3000 SKUs we have down to 72 groups was very difficult, and I learned that sometimes the product inside has no effect on the packaging we were using. I was not very popular when I asked the rework team (who are usually re-labeling items or performing stock checks on items in a warm office) to reweigh the items in our unheated warehouse in December, but a constant supply of tea helped.
What areas are you still looking to improve?
Because of the reweighing exercise we were able to identify some items where we should be able to reduce the packaging. We are looking to implement a whole new product database during 2017 and packaging waste will be a key area of this.
If you had one piece of advice for other producers struggling with their compliance, what would it be?
Just because packaging is an annual declaration, don’t think of it as a yearly event – it really does need to be a constant process and should be integral to product development.
What’s been the biggest takeaway for you throughout the whole process?
Don’t panic! Use the knowledge of everyone in the business – I couldn’t have done it without the help of the warehouse staff who handle the stock every day, our IT department, supply chain, our China office AND our QC and rework team.
So there we have it, the key to packaging compliance excellence for Gardman was to maintain an accurate packaging database as an ongoing process, not only as an annual event.
Our team can often be found on site helping a member to accurately weigh their packaging in warehouses and stores, and once their database has been created the ongoing process then becomes so much easier, and importantly ensures they are not over-obligated due to inaccurate data.
If you would like to discuss how our team can help you improve your compliance processes, please contact us on 0845 094 2228 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the UK's leading garden products supplier, Gardman offers over 4,000 lines across key categories such as core gardening, garden living, homestyle accessories, garden leisure, wild bird care and pet care. Find out more at www.gardman.co.uk.
Client services manager
Abigail joined Ecosurety in 2015 and is now Client services manager, ensuring our team provide valuable support to our clients and look for additional value we can add beyond compliance. She graduated in 2014 with a BSc in Environmental Studies from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. Her degree is a reflection of her passion for environmental issues, which were evoked while growing up surrounded by the beautiful natural landscape of New England.
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