April 25, 2023

IFPA submits comments on pending EU packaging regulations

In response to proposed new European Union-wide packaging rules, the International Fresh Produce Association has submitted public comments to the European Commission detailing its strategy for promoting sustainable packaging for the fresh produce industry.

The comments emphasized the produce industry’s need for plastic packaging to reduce water loss and maintain freshness and applauded the EU for recognizing those requirements.

“We are fully committed to reducing, (with the long-term goal of eliminating) single-use packaging waste. Environmental footprint of single-use packaging is self-evident,” Max Teplitksi, IFPA chief science officer, said in a news release. “At the same time, as an industry, we owe it to consumers of fresh produce to deliver a safe and nutritious product of top quality.”

The IFPA comments, available online, also noted the global fresh produce industry’s efforts to develop compostable plastic packaging and urged regulators to exempt “functional” produce stickers from pending regulation.

“Our industry needs to be clear-eyed: These proposed revisions will have a major impact on the bilateral trade with the EU, as well as on the availability, use and reuse, refill and recycling of single use packaging,” Teplitski said. “We welcome the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed changes on the single use plastic packaging regulations.”

IFPA’s comments included the following:

  • Fresh Produce is a unique commodity, consumed fresh, often without a cooking step. The industry honors the trust of the consumers and recognizes the enormous responsibility of providing highly nutritious product that is also safe from pathogens and contaminants. IFPA applauds EU’s recognition that plastic packaging is the most effective way for minimizing microbiological hazards and we support exemptions in Annex V aimed at avoiding microbiological hazards.
  • As a fresh commodity, with a significant (often >90%) water content, plastic packaging is critical for reducing water loss and thus maintaining quality and consumer appeal of the product, further reducing food loss and waste. IFPA applauds EU’s recognition that plastic packaging is the most effective way for reducing water loss and maintaining freshness of the product, and preventing shocks and as such IFPA support exemptions in Annex V aimed at maintaining quality and desirability of the product.
  • The global fresh produce industry made significant efforts to develop compostable plastic packaging for fresh and fresh-cut produce. To maintain the environmental commitment and to provide safe product to the consumers, IFPA stressed the importance of ensuring access to compostable plastic or compostable composite packaging that is appropriately labeled as to prevent the contamination of the recycling stream.
  • IFPA also urged regulators to exempt functional produce stickers that are less than a square inch in size from this pending regulation. Technological advances made industrially and home-compostable stickers available, and these are coming onto the market. However, compostable stickers do not attach to surfaces of all fruits and vegetables. Functional stickers carry critical information about pricing, traceability and tracking of the product and allow the product to be sold without packaging, advancing the overall goal of reducing packaging waste. The use of a functional sticker that is less that a square inch in size prevents the use of packaging that is at least 10 times as large.

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