The BRC/IOP Global Standard for Packaging & Packaging Materials Issue 4 is the latest in a series of standards published to conform to not only the necessity for consumer safety, but also the importance that packaging of a product plays over and above the traditional features of contain, preserve, protect and inform. The British Retail Consortium in conjunction with the Institute of Packaging published the first Standard in 2001. The objective of that Standard was, for the first time, to provide a common basis for the certification of companies providing packaging for own-branded food products.
Since then the BRC/IOP Standard has evolved from being food-only orientated to now encompassing the much wider area of packaging for consumer products. At each new issue the Standard has attempted to reflect changes in technology, manufacturing practice and consumer needs with the latest edition becoming active on 1 August 2011.
This version of the BRC/IOP Standard has undergone considerable review and a number of the changes introduced reflect the already operational requirements of the Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 5. It is not unreasonable therefore, that the safety parameters for consumer packaging of which the greatest single area is food packaging, reflect the objectives applicable to food safety where tradition has demanded the highest levels of safety and quality be met by those supplying the retail sector.
Internationally recognized and available in many languages this new edition of the BRC/IOP Standard has after much consultation been designed to reflect increased focus on the quality and functional properties of packaging materials to operate in parallel with the traditional hygienic requirements.
The British Retail Consortium is the primary trade association representing the interests of United Kingdom retailers. A natural business interest will be that all products sold by the membership fully comply with current legislation irrespective of where the product was manufactured.
The BRC/IOP Standard applies not only to materials utilized in food packaging and filling operations, materials which are in direct contact with food products even although those very products already have a natural barrier such as boxes to contain eggs or bananas and to other products such as toiletries. The Standard is also intended to apply to consumer-disposable goods which may come into contact with food such as paper plates, disposable cutlery and cling-film, however these latter products and other similarly used products may still be audited against the BRC’s sister standard, the BRC Global Standard for Consumer Products.
Importantly the BRC/IOP Standard also applies to other key areas in the packaging industry such as those involved in the production of packaging materials for conversion or printing, those business supplying packaging materials from stock where additional processing or simply repackaging may have taken place and the supply of essential materials used in packaging such as coatings and adhesives etc.
The new issue of the BRC/IOP Standard recognizes two categories of operation :
High Hygiene Risk: ‘Packaging that comes into direct contact with food products (or other designated hygiene-sensitive products. Primary packaging used for food or other hygiene-sensitive products where there is no absolute barrier in place’.
Low Hygiene Risk: ‘Packaging for consumer products and the secondary and tertiary packaging for all uses’.
The BRC/IOP Standard has six primary operational sections covering:
Senior Management Commitment and Continual Improvement
Hazard and Risk Management Systems
Product Safety and Quality Management Systems
Product and Process Control
New to this issue of the BRC/IOP Standard are :
A grading system reflecting the number and the severity of non conformances identified during the certification audit process.
The introduction of ‘Fundamental’ Clauses to reflect the importance of operations crucial to an effective and safe packaging operation.
Any major non-conformance raised against a statement of intent of a Fundamental Clause would not permit certification to take place.
Fundamental Clauses include :
Clause 1.2 Senior Management Commitment
Clause 2.2 Hazard and Risk Analysis
Clause 3.3 Internal Audits
Clause 3.9 Traceability
Clause 4.9 Housekeeping and Cleaning
Clause 5.3 Process Control
Clause 6.1 Training and Competency
It is the latest standard.
Any packaging material manufacturing organization including primary & secondary packaging.
DRIVERS FOR CERTIFICATION
As with all BRC operated standards, certification to the Global Packaging Standard brings with it a recognition that the certificated company recognizes to its business success, the importance of maintaining sustained high levels of product safety, legality and quality. Formal acceptance of the BRC/IOP Standard through the certification process acknowledges at the most senior level in a company, adoption of the aforementioned commitments.
Existing implementation a Quality Management System such as ISO may mean that many of the requirements of the Standard are already met.
Cost savings can be made through improved efficiency and productivity.
Improvements can be developed, resulting in less waste, inappropriate or rejected work and fewer complaints.
Certification to the standard provides credibility.
Assists Companies choose approved suppliers with confidence.
Provides assurance that suppliers are following good manufacturing practice and are meeting their legal requirements.
Provision of a single recognized third party audit report saves time money and inconvenience.
Provides marketing opportunities through the BRC Global Standards Directory website and use of the BRC logo.