Some things never change. Did you know that the humble glass bottle – now making a comeback thanks to its facility for recycling – was first commercialized by the ancient Egyptians some 3 500 years ago?1) About 1 300 years later, the Chinese gave us paper, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that branding started appearing on packaging, leading to bar codes, nutrition facts and a whole lot more.

These days, packaging must not only conform to legal requirements, it needs to appeal to consumers as well, helping them make informed choices. ISO/IEC Guide 41, Packaging – Recommendations for addressing consumer needs, an international document published jointly by ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), provides guidance to product designers, manufacturers, regulators, and others involved in decision making regarding packaging – including standards developers.

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, said 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,” she said.

Fellow Convenor, Sandra Herrera, a standards specialist at ICONTEC, ISO’s member for Colombia, agrees.

“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 labelling information and environmental impact, such as reuse and recycling.”

ISO/IEC Guide 41, Packaging – Recommendations for addressing consumer needs, was developed by ISO/COPOLCO, the ISO Committee on consumer policy. It is available from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.


1)   Digimarc: The History of Packaging