ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have updated Guide 41, an international document intended to help organizations ensure their packaging meets growing consumer needs.
‘ISO/IEC Guide 41, Packaging – Recommendations for addressing consumer needs’ provides guidance to product designers, manufacturers, regulators and others involved in decision making regarding packaging – including standards developers. The guide was developed by ISO/COPOLCO, the ISO Committee on consumer policy.
ISO and IEC noted that the modern packaging landscape is complex, needing to be safe and sustainable whilst remaining appealing and functional. Packaging must not only conform to legal requirements, it needs to appeal to consumers as well, helping them make informed choices.
Christine Heemskerk, co-convenor of the ISO working group that developed the guide and chair of the consumer and public interest network of BSI, ISO’s member for the UK, explained that the newly revised version features more detailed information on risk assessment, vulnerable consumers’ needs, cost reduction, use of resources, suitability for intended purpose and recycling.
“Consumers will directly benefit from industry use of the revised guide, with safer, more appropriate and informative packaging.”
Fellow co-convenor Sandra Herrera, a standards specialist at Icontec, ISO’s member for Colombia, added: “ISO/IEC Guide 41 will optimize product packaging by providing international best practice and guidance on everything from ensuring the packaging protects the product effectively, to labeling information and environmental impact, such as reuse and recycling.”
The main changes compared to the previous edition are as follows:

    — expansion of the scope to include secondary and tertiary packaging, and other aspects such as labelling information and distribution channels;
    — additional provisions on safety and sustainability of packaging to address the needs of vulnerable consumers;
    — reference to ISO 18601 and related documents on packaging and the environment;
    — additional guidance for suitability for intended purpose;
    — integration of the iterative process of risk assessment and risk reduction using the approach of ISO/IEC Guide 51;
    — updated references to other ISO/IEC Guides on product information for consumers, instructions for use of consumer products, child safety, safety aspects in standards and accessibility;
    — addition of clauses on presentation of information, recognizability and uniformity, and legibility of text.
ISO/IEC Guide 41:2018 is available from national ISO members and through the ISO Store.