Two major new initiatives for the UK packaging industry have been spearheaded by the UK's Institute of Packaging.

One is the launch by the IOP and The British Retail Consortium of a new standard for manufacturers and suppliers of food packaging materials. It will complement the joint standard for hygiene and quality of food packaging introduced by the two organizations two years ago.

John Webb-Jenkins, IOP chief executive, says: "I believe we have achieved the aim of establishing a working standard for the industry. Consultation across the industry has resulted in this new standard allowing just one verification for a packaging supplier to validate compliance, so reducing the number of audits currently carried out."

BRC director general Bill Moyes adds: "Already widely welcomed by retailers, this standard will greatly assist both our members and food producers in the fulfilment of their legal obligations by providing a common audit of companies’ suppliers".

In the second initiative, the institute is to carry out the first comprehensive mapping exercise of the UK packaging industry. The 12 month project, backed by a government grant, will aim to cover the industry’s scope, size, geographic distribution, number of employees, skill base, training needs, and representation to government.

John Webb-Jenkins comments: "As a result of the mapping exercise we will be in a position to co-operate closely with all sectors of the industry, NTOs and other trade associations in identifying the training needs, developing the standards and qualifications needed by the packaging industry, and in delivering training to meet those needs".

The results of the research will be made available to the industry through abstracts and by attending one of four national conferences to be held in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. A national database of companies will also be set up.