21 March 2023
"Efforts for more sustainable packaging for the fruit and vegetables sector should be based on realistic, fair, and feasible targets for real environmental impact reduction."
EUROPATAT, the European Potato Trade Association, along with growing and fresh produce bodies, is calling for a revision to provisions made in a report detailing packaging waste.
Copa-Cogeca, Freshfel Europe, the European Fresh Produce Association are also asking for the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste, published last November, to be reassessed.
"It is with this in mind that we express great concern about aspects of the proposal affecting the fruit and vegetables sector in what is a challenging socio-economic context," a joint statement by the four bodies reveals.
"In particular, we call attention to the proposed ban on single use packaging for less than 1.5kg of fresh fruit and vegetables, which disregards both the material uses and life-cycle analyses that demonstrate the sustainability of the packaging for the sector."
Restrictions without workable alternatives will result in protection of products and shelf-life being drastically reduced, as well as hygiene, organoleptic quality and traceability being compromised, the organisation states.
All the organisations feel the restrictions would not improve the supply chain’s environmental impact, but would have the opposite effect, while increasing food waste. They say the proposed ban disproportionately targets the fruit and vegetable sector and is not based on a thorough and science-based impact assessment.
Instead of focussing on prohibitions, the bill should instead look at incentives and a workable strategy such as ecological labelling or improving packaging management.
A reduction in the use of superfluous packaging, promotion of environmentally-friendly packaging and improvements to the ways in which packaging is collected, sorted and recycled at Member States’ level would be more beneficial, the organisations state. At the same time, there needs to be recognition that in some cases plastic packaging is essential and irreplaceable as it maintains food quality and safety.
"The fruit and vegetable supply chain is already making strides to improve packaging management systems, reduce plastic packaging and prevent food waste by taking eco-design approaches and using environmentally-friendly packaging and materials based on science-based decision-making," the statement reveals.
"These efforts should be supported through good regulation and attention must be paid to avoid imposing requirements that would be counterproductive to these aims and result in unintended consequences."