As a producer of packaging, batteries or electricals, data is central to your producer responsibility requirements. It should also be central to your strategic decision-making and a significant driver of value for your organisation. Poor data on the other hand can be an expensive and frustrating liability that draws resources whilst giving little back to your business – plus it is likely to put you at risk of non-compliance if it doesn't meet the required standards of accuracy

These videos and article explain the main factors that you should be considering to improve your data, whether you are starting from scratch or looking to improve existing processes.

Watch explainer video - part 1

Understand the data value chain

It is key that the value and potential of data is understood within your organisation, to ensure it is taken seriously and managed correctly. You must capture data to comply with producer regulations, and new EPR measures mean that the data you are required to capture is becoming far more detailed and complex (you can find out more about the packaging EPR data requirements in this article, for example).

Don’t just use the data you are capturing to report to government, instead recognise it as a valuable business asset that your organisation should be driving value from, via the data value chain:

Data value chain

For example, reliable, up-to-date data should be driving valuable insights to inform strategy and decision making. Organisations that recognise this often capture as much data as possible about their packaging and products, not just what they have to report on to comply.

Data insights themselves should result in meaningful action that can be taken that brings value to your organisation, for example a material or design change to a product or packaging. That value could be reduced EPR costs, a lower carbon impact or increased sales, for example.

Data is then used again to track the progress and results of these changes, so you can evidence and monitor how they have performed and drive further insights. You can also work backwards from a desired value you want to achieve, to help identify the data you require to drive insights and action to achieve it.

Once you have the data in place we have analytical dashboards available to help you easily gain data insights to reduce packaging EPR liabilities or the carbon impact of products and packaging, for example.

Improve data literacy in your organisation

Data literacy can be defined as having the required understanding and skillset to optimally capture, validate, read, understand, analyse, manage and act on data. Our article and video Eight ways to be more data literate is a great place to start.

Watch explainer video - part 2

Understand your data demands

A common problem is that organisations don’t have adequate resources to deal with data properly or efficiently, whether that is simply dealing with mandatory compliance data reporting requirements or trying to drive meaningful insights and value from it.

Our advice is simple - don’t underestimate the demands of data and the resources that capturing, validating, reporting and analysing require to be done optimally. Ask yourself some fundamental questions about how you are dealing with data, now and in the future:

What are you aiming to achieve with your data – just enough to comply with the regulations or regular insights to drive maximum value across the business?

  • How much data will that require?

  • How complex is it?

  • How often do you need to capture it?

  • How often do you need to report it?

  • How many data sources are there to manage?

  • Do you have the correct resource to handle data effectively?

  • Are they sufficiently trained and data literate?

  • Are your data systems up to the job?

What is your current budget to manage this data and is it sufficient to meet future requirements?

The answers will inform you about what resources, processes and systems you need in place. Don’t forget that you have a choice to either sufficiently resource data within your organisation or outsource key elements of it to a third party, like Ecosurety. Either way, there will be a cost to your business to deal with data properly, but this should be mitigated by the value you can drive from it.

Contact us to find out more about how we can help you to improve data capture, auditing, reporting or analysis.

Maintain a focus on data quality

You might be efficiently capturing the vast amounts of data you require about your products or packaging, but if the data quality is not up to scratch you can be left with huge problems to solve, and these can really drain extra resources.

Firstly, you must fully understand what data you need, from who and by when. It sounds obvious, but the devil is in the detail and it is this detail that will drive your data quality requirements. This is critical, especially when the regulators audit your data for accuracy. Identify what data you have flowing into your organisation that meets your quality requirements, and for the data that doesn’t, or is missing, work out how you will get it.

Consistent data capture is also key here. When requesting data from your supply chain, send them a controlled form to use with fixed fields and specified data formats (i.e. kg not ounces), so the data you receive is consistently in the right format and ready to use. Allowing free entry of data in any format, captured in many different ways, is best avoided. Check out our article and video 10 steps to improve your supply chain data for more advice.

Train your staff correctly as well. Do they understand what data they need to collect, why they are collecting it and the standards it needs to meet? It really helps if they understand the requirements and demands of EPR, and your own internal data analysis, when requesting and checking data. Check out our article Eight ways to improve data literacy.

It also helps to capture and monitor data as regularly as possible; this makes it much easier to identify problems and continually maintain standards.

Ecosurety can do a data health assessment for you that will identify how you can improve the quality of your data, contact us to find out more.

Be data secure

Governance and security of your data is critical as it will contain valuable and commercially sensitive information about your sales, products, packaging and supply chain. Having this information saved and shared in spreadsheets is not advisable since they are difficult to control – would you even know if a spreadsheet with all your sensitive data was amended, copied, shared with the wrong person or exported from your systems?

It is advisable to instead store your data in a system that enables you to fully manage and track who has access to it and how it is shared. Also check if your IT systems are up to the required data security standards, for example ISO 27001.

Next steps

Our article on 10 steps to improve your supply chain data is essential reading. Our team are always on hand for advice on how to improve your data and can complete a data health check for you. Contact us to find out more.

Ben Luger Ecosurety

Ben Luger

Marketing Project Specialist

Ben helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.

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