Agency expected to suspend neck sleeve packaging on bottled water


The National Standardization Council, which is responsible for approving the national quality and standardization strategy proposed by the Ethiopian Standard Agency (ESA), is expected to suspend neck sleeve packaging on bottled water and juice when it meets later this month.
The council that meets every three months is expected to undertake its fourth and last meeting for the current budget year in this month. The meeting will evaluate several issues related with standards.
According to Ethiopian Bottled Water and Soft Drinks Manufacturing Industries Association (EBWSDMIA), the process got a green light by ESA who is responsible to table the case for the council, which is chaired by Fetlework Gebregziabher, Minister of Trade and Industry.
For the past one year since its formation, the association has been lobbying relevant government bodies, bottlers besides conducting a detailed study for the contribution and effect of the neck sleeves packaging, which is common in Ethiopia’s water industry.
Ashenafi Merid, General Manager of EBWSDMIA, told Capital that not only the study of the association but others like Ethiopian Environment and Climate Change Commission indicated that the production has negative impact for the environment since the packaging is plastic and is difficult to collect.
“The packaging is very small and cannot be easily retrieved so it will affect the environment,” Ashenafi explained.
Ashenafi reminded that the association’s study covered three areas that include the benefit of neck sleeves on the health aspect, economic and environmental aspects.
“Regarding the economic aspect for instance there are about 80 water bottlers in the country the use of neck sleeves on their packaging based on their capacity each bottlers allocate from USD 30,000 to 40,000 to import the packaging, which is a huge cost for the factories,” he said. He added that it affects the environment, while there is no contribution for the health or quality of the production that is proved on other countries. “As per our study Ethiopia is the only country that use neck sleeves on packaging,” he explained.
Solomon Tadele, Director General of Food, Beverage and Pharmaceutical Industry Development Institute told Capital that neck sleeves packaging is not common in other countries and it is not mandatory on Ethiopia’s standardization rule.
Solomon said that such kind of packaging is costing the factories by importing machines for the specific packaging, additional labour cost for the operation besides importing unnecessary raw material.
He reminded that quality is not related with such packaging.
Ashenafi noted that by tradition pioneer water bottlers started the neck sleeves packaging followed by the late comers, but it could not be a measurement for standard or quality.
He said that several relevant government bodies have accepted their argument to stop using the packaging. Solomon confirmed that the institute wrote a support letter for ESA as per the request of the association.
The association head said that Food, Medicine and Healthcare Administration and Control Authority and Ethiopian Environment and Climate Change Commission supported the proposal of the association and wrote a letter for the agency to suspend using packaging on the water or juice bottling.
Ashenafi said that the technical committee under the agency that comprised several experts and relevant bodies including the association evaluated the case. “In April we presented our detailed study for the committee,” he added.
He explained that that the agency is expected to file the case for the council to give a final decision that would impose restriction factories to suspend using neck sleeves on their production.
The council has about 14 members including pertinent government body like Food, Medicine and Healthcare Administration and Control Authority, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association from the private sector.
It is the higher body which approves the national quality and standardization strategy proposed by the agency, and the council determines products for the use of national standard mark and also approve mandatory standard requirements which are proposed by the respective national technical committee on a certain products and services standards which are to be regulated from the safety, health, environmental and national security.