Keep an Eye on Standards

When it comes to sustainability, Pat Nolan, president of DDL (, stresses package optimization, rather than simply source reduction. Quoting pending ISO standards from ISO TC122 SC 4, Nolan points out that “packaging plays a critical role,” and when appropriate, “is essential to prevent loss of goods.”

So even when tasked with minimizing the use of packaging materials, engineers must still develop packaging that provides adequate protection in order to avoid unintended consequences. “The unintended consequences of reducing packaging may result in increased damage, an unusable product, delayed procedures, and nonsterile product,” says Nolan.

To avoid such consequences, “you must test and verify your new materials to ensure they are still in compliance with industry standards,” he explains.

ASTM International and ISTA both provide several established package performance standards, and ISO will soon offer a new series on packaging and sustainability. Nolan reports that after a two-year period of global review and revision, ISO TC122 SC 4 is on track to produce committee drafts (CDs) of ISO standards modeled after the EN (European Norm) standards that support the EU (European Union) Directive for Packaging and Packaging Waste.

The CDs have the following designations and titles:

• ISO/CD 18601, Packaging and the environment — General requirements for the use of ISO standards in the field of packaging and the environment
• ISO/ CD 18602, Packaging and the environment -- Optimization of the packaging system
• ISO/CD 18603, Packaging and the environment -- Reuse
• ISO/CD 18604, Packaging and the environment – Material recycling
• ISO/CD 18605, Packaging and the environment – Energy recovery
• ISO/CD 18606, Packaging and the environment – Organic recycling

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