Freshfel calls for sustainable and functional harmonised EU packaging rules for fresh fruit and vegetables without discriminatory measures

Following the release of the European Commission’s proposal for a regulation on packaging and packaging waste, Freshfel Europe has called on decision-makers to enact sustainable and functional harmonised EU packaging rules for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Peppers in plastic packaging

Under the new proposal, single use plastic packaging, single use composite packaging or other single use packaging for fresh fruit and vegetables less than 1.5kg would be banned on the Single Market.

The association said any packaging rules should have disproportionate and discriminatory measures.

”No other food categories are specifically targeted in the regulation, supposedly defining general rules for packaging to circulate on the Single Market,” Freshfel stated.

Freshfel said it was advocating for sustainability packaging efforts to be led through science-based solutions with true results for sustainability enhancement.

The association said it was not supportive of politically driven blanket bans, such as the proposal’s ban, that were not supported by due environmental footprint analyses.

“The fresh fruit and vegetable sector is committed to enhancing the category’s sustainability to help reach the EU’s climate neutrality target by 2050,” said Philippe Binard, Freshfel Europe’s general delegate. ”We have proven this through our long use of the reusable pallet pool systems and recent investments such as in home compostable labels.

”However, EU packaging regulation must be proportionate and result in actual positive environmental benefits,” Binard added. “EU packaging rules must reflect the sector’s needs to use functional and the most environmentally beneficial packaging to provide high quality and safe products to EU consumers for healthy, sustainable diets, without any unintended consequences such as food waste.”

Freshfel said it was supportive of the proposal’s exemption to the ban given for fruit and vegetables where there was a demonstrated need to avoid water loss or turgidity loss, microbiological hazards or physical shocks.

”However, neither a list of exact products nor how these aspects should be demonstrated is defined,” Freshfel outlined. “The association is also supportive of the proposal’s mandate on the use of industrially compostable fresh produce labels with a two-year transition period.”

The association has been working with the European Commission on the sector’s packaging needs for several years.

“The proposal is an opportunity to reduce trading complexities resulting from current divergent national implementation of the Single-Use Plastics Directive, but this should not equate to extending the scope of that Directive,” said Nicola Pisano, Freshfel Europe director sustainability.

”In the regulation process, policy makers must examine packaging requirements through life cycle analysis per product to achieve truly sustainable and circular solutions,” Pisano added. ”We are looking for a high level of harmonisation in the proposal, including technical details, to avoid further operational complexities hindering sustainability objectives.”