January 16, 2024

New alliance to address pending food packaging regulations

Industry organizations from around the world have formed a new alliance aimed at achieving sustainability in food packaging without compromising on food safety while continuing to minimize environmental impact.

The Alliance for Sustainable Packaging for Foods (ASPF) brings together nonprofit and non-governmental groups to engage with regulators and governments, according to a news release. The ASPF will prioritize engagement with ongoing negotiations in the EU on the revision of applicable packaging and packaging waste rules as well as packaging-related regulatory developments in Canada.

“When discussing the future of packaging, food safety and quality and reducing food loss and waste are non-negotiable,” Max Teplitski, International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) chief science officer and ASPF chair, said in the release. “Members of ASPF are clear: We are committed to significantly reducing packaging waste, just not at the expense of food safety. We will work hard with the regulators and policy makers around the world to do so.”

An Environment and Climate Change Canada directive aims to eliminate plastic packaging in produce sold in that country by 95% by 2028. Last November, IFPA CEO Cathy Burns and Vonnie Estes, IFPA vice president of innovation, attended a roundtable meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss how that pending change might affect U.S. and Canadian consumer food affordability.

“We must take into account the footprint of the entire lifecycle of packaging use while maintaining food safety and addressing phytosanitary concerns,” Teplitski said in the release. “The purpose of ASPF is to find opportunities for partnership across global stakeholders to create a holistic and harmonized approach to packaging regulation, which reflects and accounts for the key outcomes central to a sustainable food supply.”

Max Teplitski, International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) chief science officer and ASPF chair. Photo courtesy of IFPA.

ASPF founding members include: Aneberries; Canadian Produce Marketing Association; FMI – The Food Industry Association; Fruit South Africa; Frutas de Chile; IFPA; National Milk Producers Federation; National Council of Farmers Cooperatives; National Wooden Pallet and Container Association; North American Meat Institute; Organic Trade Association, Reusable Packaging Association; STOP Foodborne Illness; U.S. Dairy Export Council; and Western Growers Association.

“Sustainable packaging solutions for food, such as reusable packaging, can also lead to superior product protection and temperature management performance, ensuring food quality and safety and reducing waste,” Todd Hoff, Reusable Packaging Association executive vice president and ASPF vice chair, said in the release. “The Reusable Packaging Association values our participation in this wide-ranging industry alliance to support the transformation to more circular reuse systems while upholding the highest food standards. We look forward to working with other industry leaders to demonstrate that packaging can be sustainable, cost-effective, and high-performing without compromising.”

ASPF will include working groups to identify priorities and form action plans focused on the government relations strategies and the technical approach to advocate for packaging regulations that not meet compliance standards and are technically pragmatic for industry implementation, according to the release.

ASPF has released an analysis of peer-reviewed publications that focus on food safety versus packaging tradeoffs. The position paper is available on the organization’s website.

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