Issue 6 of the BRCGS for Packaging Materials (the Standard) was released in August 2019, and will be audited from 1st February, 2020. Originally developed and published in 2001, it was designed to protect the consumer by providing a common basis for the certification of companies supplying packaging to food producers. The Standard has been updated at regular intervals since, to reflect the latest thinking in product safety, and has now attained usage worldwide.
The Standard now provides a framework for all types of packaging manufacturers to assist them in the production of safe packaging materials and to manage product quality to meet customers’ requirements. Certification against the Standard is recognised by many brand owners, retailers, food service companies and manufacturers around the world when assessing the capabilities of their suppliers. In response to demand, the Standard has been translated into many languages to facilitate implementation by packaging materials companies across the world.
The Standard has been developed to specify the product safety, quality and operational criteria that must be in place within a packaging manufacturing organisation in order for it to fulfil its obligations with regard to legal compliance and protection of the consumer. The format is designed to allow a company’s premises, operational systems and procedures to be assessed against the requirements of the Standard.
Principles of the Standard A business must have a full understanding of the processes and products it manufactures. It must also have systems in place to ensure that products are produced within a suitably hygienic environment and consistently meet the quality and product safety expectations of its customers. The Standard is based on the key components of senior management commitment, risk assessment of the product and manufacturing process, and a systematic approach to managing product quality and safety.
Senior management commitment
Within a business, the safety, legality and quality of the products produced must be seen as a cross-functional responsibility, involving and using different skills and expertise in the organisation. Effective adoption of the principles of this Standard extends beyond the responsibility of a single individual or technical departments and must involve commitment from production operations, engineering, distribution management, procurement of raw materials and those concerned with customer feedback and human resource activity such as training. The starting point for effective implementation of the Standard is the commitment of senior management to the development of an all-encompassing policy as a means to guide the activities that collectively assure the production of safe and legal packaging and packaging materials.
A risk-based system
The Standard requires an evaluation of the risks to product safety and quality associated with the manufacture of packaging and packaging materials. The hazard and risk analysis process defined in the Standard should enable potential risks to be identified and controlled, either through existing prerequisite programmes, such as cleaning, pest control and maintenance, or by the introduction of specific controls. An effective hazard and risk analysis provides a basis for the management system. The development of the system requires the input of all relevant departments and must be supported by senior management.
Quality management system and suitable operating conditions
The Standard requires the organisation to document the framework of management policies and procedures by which it will achieve the main requirements of this Standard. It also expects the business to maintain the basic environmental and operational conditions that are necessary for the production of safe, legal products under suitable hygienic conditions.
Benefits Adoption of the Standard leads to a number of benefits for packaging and packaging materials manufacturing businesses.
The standard is internationally recognised, GFSI-benchmarked and provides a report and certification that can be accepted by customers in place of their own audits, thereby reducing time and cost
It provides a single standard and protocol that governs an accredited audit by third-party certification bodies, allowing a credible independent assessment of a company’s product safety and quality systems
It enables certificated companies to appear in the publicly available part of the BRC Global Standards Directory, allowing recognition of their achievements and use of a logo for marketing purposes
It is comprehensive in scope, covering areas of quality, legality and product safety
It addresses part of the legislative requirements of the packaging manufacturer/supplier, packer/filler and retailer. Packaging manufacturers may also use this Standard to ensure their suppliers are following good manufacturing practices and are fulfilling legal requirements
It enables companies to ensure their suppliers are following good practice in product safety
It provides a framework for the development of quality and hygiene management systems in companies, encouraging continuous improvement, reduction in waste and increased efficiency
It provides a range of audit options, including announced and unannounced audit programmes. These will not only satisfy customer demands, but also enable companies to demonstrate compliance through a process which best suits their operation and the maturity of their product safety and quality management systems
It is part of a scheme offering an array of training, education and technical support.
Expectations The Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials requires the development of and compliance with the following:
Senior management commitment. The resources required for demonstration of commitment to achieving the requirements of the Standard are detailed in Part II, section 1.
A hazard and risk analysis management plan This provides a focus on the significant product and process safety hazards that require specific control to assure the safety of individual packaging materials, products or lines as detailed in Part.II, section 2.
A quality management system Details of the organisational and management policies and procedures that provide a framework by which the organisation will achieve the requirements in this Standard as given in Part II, section 3.
Prerequisite programmes The basic environmental and operational conditions in a packaging business that are necessary for the production of safe and hygienic packaging materials. These control generic hazards, covering good manufacturing and good hygienic practice as detailed in Part II, sections 4–6.