UL Environment will be testing a new standards development process this November and we want you to participate. We are trying to shake up traditional standards development by engaging with as many stakeholders as possible during the initial development of the standard. Traditionally, standards are developed by a small group of stakeholders who represent all the different stakeholder groups interested in the standard. While this process meets the ANSI essential requirements for standards, some standards topics can benefit from wider participation. This is especially true for environmental standards where opinions and concerns can be scattered across a wide spectrum of positions. We chose Plastic Packaging (scope below) as the topic to introduce this new process, a process that includes the potential for massive commenting though an open source model.
We hope that anyone who is interested will participate – from consumers and manufacturers, chemical companies and fabricators, government and NGOs – all are welcome to participate. The resulting document will be used as a starting place for a more traditional process meeting the requirements of the Ecologo ISO 14021 standards development process.
This standard covers the sustainability of plastic packaging used to contain, handle, protect, and/or transport a solid or liquid product. This includes but is not limited to rigid and flexible bottles, bags, pouches, films or any other plastic based primary packaging. Secondary packaging which meets the material and performance characteristics of primary packaging is also included. Sustainability factors include energy use, material efficiency, chemical hazards, recyclability, impacts of production and end of life.
Why change a well-practiced standards development model? The practicalities of managing a standards development body require smaller groups and while these groups are representative of stakeholders everyone who wants to may not be able to participate. An open public comment period is available at the end of the process, during balloting, not during discussion of the original criterion. A short, concentrated, high energy and fully public effort at the beginning of the process to develop the criterion gives voice to all who want to participate. While the final ballot on the standard will follow traditional standards committee rules and processes the committee will have the public input to consider while looking at the standard. What we hope will be brought to the discussion is data, reasoned discussion and openness to new ideas. One of the benefits of online documents is that if comment is backed up by data or research a link to the source material can be embedded in the comments. Anyone can see the reference material and post other materials to support a different position. Any reference material is welcome, such as research papers, magazine articles, blog posts, government publications, surveys or any additional material that helps understand the source of the comment.
How can you get involved? First, respond to the call for participation. Then participate during the open comment period! We will be starting the process with a webinar, an hour review of background on the process, a guide to writing standards, what types of criterion should be considered and how to comment. After the webinar, the draft document will be available for review and comment. The webinar will only be able to handle 90 people. If you are not able to participate in the webinar it will be recorded and made available online. For more information on the webinar and participating in the public comment session, contact Megan Monsen at Megan.Monsen@ul.com.