International Fresh Produce Assn. comments on European Commission's proposal on packaging and packaging waste, stressing the importance of appropriately labeled compostables and urging regulators to exempt produce stickers that are less than a square inch

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WASHINGTON , April 25, 2023 (press release) –

The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) recently 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. 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.” said IFPA Chief Science Officer, Dr. Max Teplitski. “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. 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. 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.

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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Jason Irving
Jason Irving
- SVP Enterprise Solutions -

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