EU plans ban on plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables

The fresh produce industry is expected to challenge the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which targets plastic packaging for fresh fruits and vegetables while leaving other food categories untouched. The European Parliament and Council have tentatively agreed on revised rules to reduce, reuse, and recycle packaging. The European Commission states that these new measures, referred to as the PPWR, will enhance food safety and promote a circular economy. The regulations aim to improve the safety and sustainability of packaging in the EU by requiring all packaging to be recyclable, minimizing the presence of harmful substances, reducing unnecessary packaging, increasing the use of recycled materials, and enhancing collection and recycling processes.
Revisions to the original proposal have replaced the initial plan to ban all single-use packaging for fruits and vegetables with a more specific ban on plastic packaging only.
Industry leaders have expressed concern, stating that the rules will cause significant harm and unfairly target the fruit and vegetable sector. They argue that it will lead to increased food waste, limit consumer access to healthy foods, and have minimal impact on overall recycling rates.
Philippe Binard, the general delegate of industry association Freshfel Europe, described the ban as poorly thought out, discriminatory, and potentially illegal.
“We don’t see a reason to ban packaging for fruits and vegetables, specifically not plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables,” Philippe Binard said. “There is no impact assessment. If [Parliament and Council] come to an agreement, there will be legal cases challenging that proposal for sure.”
The agreement, which requires formal approval from the Parliament and Council before coming into force, sets packaging reduction targets of 5 percent by 2030, 10 percent by 2035, and 15 percent by 2040. It also mandates EU countries to reduce the amount of plastic packaging waste, in particular.
Under the agreement, various single-use plastic packaging formats, including packaging for unprocessed fresh fruits and vegetables, would be banned from 1 January 2030.
All packaging must be recyclable, meeting strict criteria to be defined through secondary legislation. Certain exceptions are expected for lightweight wood, cork, textile, rubber, ceramic, porcelain, or wax.
Other agreed-upon measures include setting minimum recycled content targets for any plastic part of packaging, minimum recycling targets based on the weight of packaging waste generated, and increased recyclability requirements.
Rapporteur Frédérique Ries stated, “For the first time in an environmental law, the EU is setting targets to reduce packaging consumption, regardless of the material used. We call on all industrial sectors, EU countries, and consumers to play their part in the fight against excess packaging.”




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