Amid mounting operational complexity and costs, leading fresh produce sustainability experts gathered online on Friday 21 October for Freshfel Europe’s Webinar on ‘National Packaging Legislation’. The webinar brought to light the many difficulties the fresh fruit and vegetable sector is facing in navigating national packaging legislation across the EU as a result of divergent Member State implementation of the Single Use Plastics Directive. The sector is increasingly frustrated that lack of EU harmonisation in packaging rules on the Single Market is hindering sector sustainability efforts, both on an environmental and economic basis. Freshfel Europe is calling on the EU institutions to ensure a higher level of EU harmonisation in the ongoing revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.
Freshfel Europe is calling on the EU institutions to harmonise packaging legislation on the Single Market to facilitate the fresh produce sector’s road to higher packaging sustainability. On Friday 21 October the Association held an online webinar to discuss operational challenges resulting from divergent Member State implementation of the Single Use Plastics Directive (Directive (EU)2019/904) as well as labelling issues linked to the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC). Over the last two years implementation of differing national packaging legislation for fresh produce has created huge operational complexity on the Single Market, leading to higher costs for operators without delivering sustainability results. Freshfel Europe members affirmed that the situation must be resolved through EU harmonisation of packaging rules, especially through the ongoing revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (Directive 94/62/EC), so that the sector can achieve real steps in packaging sustainability.
Unintended and unsustainable consequences throughout the supply chain resulting from divergent packaging legislation across Europe must be stopped. Laurent Grandin, Freshfel Europe Interbranch Committee President and President of Interfel, emphasized, “The current operational complexities resulting from different packaging legislation in each country are not environmentally or economically sustainable. One Single Market, one rule, should be the ethos of packaging legislation in the EU”. Of increasing concern to fresh produce operators is the discrimination in some national legislation towards the sector, which faces must shorter transition periods compared to other food sectors, detrimental effects on fresh fruit and vegetable quality and safety, as well as lack of policy coherence with other EU sustainability targets under the European Green Deal, such as food waste prevention.
With no proper impact assessments completed for national packaging rules, differing legislation is leading to costly operational complexities involving unsustainable practices. Freshfel Europe Director Sustainability Nicola Pisano, commented, “The fresh produce sector is frustrated by recent national packaging legislation impeding sector efforts and ambition to heighten sustainability. Current rules requiring different packaging and labelling for each Member State is leading to higher packaging waste and resources, this is neither environmentally nor economically beneficial and contrary to the objectives of EU legislation”. Ms Pisano added, “The revision of Directive 94/62/EC must change this. The time to act is now, especially considering the current impetus to maintain food security in the Union”.
The fresh fruit and vegetable sector confirms its commitment to move towards more environmentally friendly solutions, looking at all options and all packaging types, while coping with the necessary requirements on labelling and traceability, and matching consumer expectation for convenience, safety and freshness of fruit and vegetables to boost consumption.