Organisation says the rules lack focus on food safety, food loss, waste prevention, and will raise trade concerns

New packaging rules adopted by the European Parliament ”raise serious trade and food safety concerns”, according to the US-based Alliance for Sustainable Packaging for Foods (ASPF).

Max Teplitski IFPA ASPF

Max Teplitski

In a statement, the Alliance said that if the rules were endorsed by the EU Council later this year, they would almost certainly negatively impact global supply chains and food security ”at a time when more than 37m Europeans cannot afford a quality meal every second day”.

Secondary impacts of the new rules would include fewer healthy food choices available to consumers, it noted.

”The Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) prohibits even those single-use packaging options that were scientifically designed to maintain quality, safety and freshness of perishable commodities,” said ASPF.

”This is because fresh and ready-to-eat foods risk being spoiled, damaged or contaminated if not packaged appropriately. It would lead to an increase in food waste and, based on studies carried out in other jurisdictions, is likely to result in greater use of more durable types of plastics.”

The PPWR favoured recyclability over composting, and therefore limited options for fresh food manufacturers, it warned.

”Exemptions to the ban would be left to individual EU Member States leading to a patchwork of national regulations on food safety and allowable types of packaging for many perishable commodities. 

”Instead of creating harmonised rules, this will undermine the EU Single Market by creating obstacles to trade within, as well as with, the EU.”

The ASPF said it would continue to urge and engage with EU regulators and Member State governments to address those serious food safety and trade concerns.

”Enormous challenges lie ahead for the fresh food sector,” the Alliance noted. ”To successfully increase sustainability of the food supply chain, it is essential that evidence-based approaches are adopted that do not compromise on food safety, food quality, food availability and public health, while minimising single-use packaging waste.”

Reacting to the news, ASPF chair Max Teplitski, who is also chief science officer of the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA), said that minimising waste and finding alternatives to single use plastic packaging “was a goal we can all get behind”.

”Without viable alternatives, bans on plastic and compostable packaging threaten food safety, undermine food quality, and increase food waste –  all factors that are equally important to consumers and the environment,” he said.

”We are disappointed that the new packaging rules adopted by the European Parliament do not prioritise consumer safety and access to nutritious food choices, nor do they consider the tangible impacts on trade and sustainability.

”With this outcome, IFPA will continue to advocate for sensible packaging regulations and investment in the innovations needed to find safe and sustainable alternatives to single-use packaging,” he added.