2021 is the year during which the British economic reality changes dramatically. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven unexpected supply shortages across the UK manufacturing sector, causing delays in supply collection, transport, import procedures, and treatment. The combination of security protocols, ‘pingdemic’ surge in the UK but also similar isolation processes around the world, and other COVID-related disruptions is inevitably slowing down UK manufacturing and its packaging needs.
The consequences of Brexit are coming to light, affecting supplies, costs, and packaging requirements. Indeed, The UK packaging industry is facing significant difficulties related to the negative impact of Brexit. Staffing is the first issue recognised nationally in every sector. However, leaving the EU regulations has a deeper impact on the packaging sector. The UK will need to revise its packaging procedures to comply with the new regulations as a non-EU member.
Additionally, large packaging producers in the UK need now to dispose of pre-Brexit stocks, leading to enormous waste. Packaging waste is a worry, as the EU legislation doesn’t contribute to UK recycling rates anymore. In a post-Brexit environment, UK businesses may struggle to maintain investments in sustainable packaging solutions as there are new costs to address in priority.
Is it time for sourcing locally?
It makes sense for businesses in the UK to rethink their packaging strategy at this time. Significant cost increases of importing over the last few months has led many sourcing packaging supplies to re-evaluate their supply chain. We have found local suppliers are now able to offer better costs for higher-quality product, with the added bonus of shorter lead time.
Perhaps now is the time to reflect on the economic lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic lockdowns. Supporting local suppliers contributes to the survival of the local economy, driving employment, including training or retraining and apprenticeship schemes for members of the local community. In a shortage of supplies and international staff, it may be worthwhile considering the move the packaging requirements close to the UK manufacturing heart.
Can UK filling and UK packaging supplies pave the way out of the packaging crisis? As we ask the question, we are forced to consider how boosting the packaging sector can help the UK economy:
- Support local suppliers
- Take control of the supply process — avoiding delays and cutting international shortages
- Grow local economy through new or increased activity levels from packaging production to UK filling
- Control environmental impact of packaging — ensuring compliance with recycling and waste management regulations
The UK already counts many packaging producers, especially in the glass manufacturing industry. Indeed, UK manufacturing has a strong history of high-quality glass products, built on a strong heritage in developing innovative technologies. UK glass manufacturers support a variety of fields, ranging from medicine to power generation. But they are also actively involved in the production of glass packaging, such as jars or bottles. Glass is one of the preferred materials when it comes to the preservation, transport, and storage of goods. Glass provides non-toxic protection from external elements, making it the ideal packaging for the food, beauty, and pharmaceutical sectors. Additionally, being 100% recyclable, glass deserves its glory spot in the packaging field.
The glass manufacturing industry is heavily regulated by expert groups, ensuring continuous innovations and improvements, so brands can rely on sturdy and beautifully decorated material. The long history of glass manufacturing in the UK is a testimony to access management to quality supply — shortage is not something brands need to fear.
Brexit means that the UK needs to comply with different regulations for exporting to the EU or even to remote markets. In other words, UK packaging needs to comfort the international quality standards applied in the export market. When we consider the glass industry, quality audits and legislation compliance are integral to everyday protocols. While audit requirements might evolve to meet changing expectations in the packaging sector, we can rest assured that the British glass manufacturing field already knows how to constantly maintain quality.
Yet, replacing other packaging supplies in the UK will require additional training and strict audit strategies to keep up with the fast-changing sectors influenced by global trends and user needs. The packaging industry recognises ISO standards, demonstrating quality management standards, commitment to the environment, and specific compliances with unique fields. Locally sourced packaging begins with holding ISO accreditations for UK packaging suppliers.
However, beyond packaging standards, the UK packaging sector also has to meet strict sustainability targets, as determined by:
- UK Emissions Trading Scheme
- Environmental Permitting Regulations
- Climate Change Agreement
- Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme
Markets are unlikely to welcome products that fail to meet CO2 emissions and energy consumption targets as part of their production or packaging processes. Therefore, it makes sense to bring local recycling processes alongside local packaging initiatives, transforming empty containers into sanitised packaging or material supply.
Are we ready to turn the packaging dilemma on its head and use locally sourced packaging to revive the UK economy? One thing is for sure: The UK has the means, the skills, and the sustainable knowledge to tackle the post-pandemic and post-Brexit packaging challenges.