Redefining & Optimising Packaging

A new breakthrough report by the Supply Chain Sustainability School (SCSS) offers innovative strategies for optimising packaging practices in the built environment, highlighting real-world examples, barriers to change and policy challenges.

Packaging waste has emerged as a significant challenge within the built environment industry, contributing to economic and environmental concerns. The new report – ‘Packaging Optimisation in the Housebuilding Sector – addresses these critical challenges and whilst focusing on the housebuilding sector, its insights extend beyond and are relevant for wider construction, facilities management and infrastructure.

The report addresses a critical issue in the built environment – packaging waste – and provides practical solutions for reducing its impact on both cost and carbon. Ten SCSS Partners have collaborated to co-fund the project, with a total of over 30 organisations joining forces to make this report possible. It encompasses real-world, actionable examples of packaging optimisation, including source elimination, reuse strategies, and optimal recycling conditions. It covers various packaging types, offering a comprehensive guide to implementing effective change. Importantly, the report sheds light on the policy challenges that organisations dealing with significant packaging volumes are likely to encounter. It addresses key concerns such as the Plastic Packaging Tax and Extended Producer Responsibility, providing essential insights for navigating regulatory landscapes.

Packaging remains a substantial cost and environmental burden for businesses. The UK construction industry alone generates around 55,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually, with an estimated 35,000 tonnes originating from packaging. Less than half of this plastic packaging is recycled, reinforcing the urgency of effective solutions.

“Packaging and the waste created by its treatment remains a major contributor to cost and carbon across the entire built environment,” says Matt Nichols, regional director at Reconomy and chair of the School’s Waste and Resource Use Leadership Group. “Our housebuilding sector is not alone in experiencing major challenges to address this problem, so this opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in the industry whilst drawing upon insights from so many expert stakeholders within the School partnership could not be missed. This project report contains content applicable not just for housebuilding, but for anyone interested in optimising and reducing the endless flow of packaging arriving at project sites every day. I cannot recommend it enough.”

Mark Turner, waste and resource management lead for the SCSS, highlighted the collaborative effort behind the report adds: “This has been a brilliant opportunity to help deliver our School mission to enable a sustainable built environment through knowledge and collaboration. We have worked closely alongside four of the UK’s largest housebuilders and in total over 30 leading organisations within the built environment to produce this report. Insights from the housebuilders, their suppliers, product manufacturers, along with waste management and policy experts have provided a window into the opportunities for packaging optimisation. Most crucially, all these organisations have entered into the spirit of open collaboration, providing solutions and practical examples for others to follow. We can only thank them.”

You can access the full report and contribute to sustainable packaging practices in the housebuilding sector and the broader built environment at

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