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Apr 25, 2023
IFPA comments on EU packaging regulations

The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) submitted public comments on the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on packaging and packaging waste.

“We are fully committed to reducing, (with the long-term goal of eliminating) single-use packaging waste,” Max Teplitski, IFPA chief science officer, wrote in the submitted comments. “Environmental footprint of single-use packaging is self-evident.  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.

“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,” he said in the comments. “We welcome the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed changes on the single use plastic packaging regulations.”

These public comments articulate IFPA’s strategy for promoting sustainable packaging for the fresh produce industry, while ensuring food safety and quality of the product, and reducing food loss and waste along the supply chain. In the comments, IFPA also addresses:

  • Fresh Produce is a unique commodity, consumed fresh, often without a cooking step. IFPA applauds the 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.
  • Fresh produce has a significant (often 90%-plus) water content and plastic packaging is critical for reducing water loss and maintaining quality, further reducing food loss and waste. IFPA applauds the EU’s recognition that plastic packaging is the most effective way for reducing water loss and maintaining freshness, and supports 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 consumers, IFPA stressed the importance of ensuring access to compostable plastic or compostable composite packaging that is appropriately labeled to prevent 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. However, compostable stickers do not attach to the 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.

IFPA’s comments can be read on the European Commission website.

In addition to engaging in advocacy on sustainable packaging on behalf of the industry, IFPA leads public-private partnerships aimed at developing technological solutions.  Working with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, USDA Foreign Ag Service, Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Sinclair and Wintermute Biomedical, IFPA supports developments of home-compostable PLU stickers and cost-effective tools for sanitizing reusable packaging.


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