Packaging Compatibility and Compliance
Product development must include stability testing to ensure that a formulation is stable and that there are no adverse interactions between the package and formulation.
There are many interactions that can occur between the primary pack and the formulation. Some common issues that can arise are:
- Weight loss due to water evaporation through the pack
- Colour leaching from the pack into the product or vica-versa
- Panelling, causing the walls of the bottle to partially collapse inward
- Absorption of preservative into certain plastics resulting in reduced preservative efficacy.
- Stress cracking
Transportation should also be considered. Changing demands for smaller shipper cartons and shelf-ready packaging require thorough transport testing prior to introducing a product to the market. Increasing sales via the internet means that parcels containing a mix of items are being transported direct to consumers.
This places additional demands on the robustness of primary packaging when compared to transport of pallet quantities.
Misleading the consumer is not permitted.
Packaging selection must be appropriate to the size of the product. Deceptive packaging is packaging which is designed to make a pack appear to hold more content that it actually does. An extreme example would be to have 100mL of product filled into a bottle which has an actual capacity of 500mL. Caps, thickness of packaging material and gift packs are all covered by this legislation to ensure fair practices. This should be taken into consideration when designing and sourcing.
This Code of Practice was developed and adopted by all Australian jurisdictions in 1987 and, while not a regulation all parties agreed that:
“PACKAGES NOT MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE CODE WILL BE CONSIDERED DECEPTIVE BY STATE AND TERRITORY AUTHORITIES. IF THE PACKAGING DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS, THE ONUS WILL BE ON THE PACKER (OR SUPPLIER) TO SHOW THAT THE PACKAGES CONCERNED ARE NOT DECEPTIVELY PACKAGED.”
The requirements of the Code covers features of packaging that are likely to deceive consumers. These are:
- Free space or ullage. Maximum permitted is 25%
- Recesses – the aggregate volume of recesses is 10% maximum
- Cavities – aggregate volume of cavities must not exceed 15%
The code provides full information on definitions, exceptions and methods of calculation and determination of free space, recesses and cavities.
The Australian Packaging Covenant
This is a voluntary scheme between Government and companies with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of consumer packaging. The scheme is not backed by legislation, however companies who choose not to be part of the scheme or fail to comply with the requirements of the Covenant will be regulated by the National Environmental Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure (NEPM) in each of the Australian States and Territories within which the company sells its products.
Member companies are required to submit an action plan with the goals of:
- Design to optimise use of resources
- Recycling to efficiently collect and recycle packaging and
- Product stewardship to demonstrate commitment of all parties.
A new action plan for 2010 to 2015 has been issued which details how the Australian Government will incorporate the principles of the covenant in its operations.