Freshfel Europe has called on the European Commission to secure more time and flexibility to ensure an orderly rollout of the new French plastic packaging legislation for fruit and vegetables.
France is set to introduce the legislation – also known as the AGEC Law – on 1 January 2022, that aims to reduce plastic packaging.
The French law goes well beyond the requirements of the European Directive, providing limited flexibility to reach the targeted reduction of plastic products, Freshfel Europe noted.
The new law only considers a phase-out option for consumer packaging under 1.5 kilograms, it added.
Philippe Binard, general delegate of Freshfel Europe commented, “While the deadline for plastic phase-out is set for 2040 in France, the phase-out target for fruit and vegetables is set for 1 January 2022, with only limited temporary derogations up to 2026 for some particularly fragile products. The same pressure is not placed on other food products, hence representing discriminatory status for fresh fruit and vegetables."
He added, “The French law does not consider alternative solutions such as the use of recyclable plastic packaging, the ban being the only option. The removal of plastic packaging from most fruit and vegetables at such short notice does not allow alternatives to be tested and introduced in a timely manner and stocks of existing packaging to be cleared.”
Other Environmental Priorities
Freshfel Europe has also warned that the new legislation might significantly endanger other environmental priorities undertaken by the sector, such as commitments on food quality and the highest safety targets for fresh produce as well as waste prevention initiatives.
The body expressed its concerns that, pending the introduction of new innovative solutions on stickers, information to consumers might also be compromised.
Binard explained, "The impact of the coming into force of the AGEC Law is just as worrying for the adhesive labels affixed to fresh fruit and vegetables sold to French consumers. The major difficulty today is that there is still no company capable of supplying ‘AGEC-compatible’ labels.
"The ban on non-home compostable stickers without having an alternative on the market is problematic as it will significantly endanger the labelling of essential information conveyed to consumers on the stickers such as origin, brands, geographical indications or organic."
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine. Article by Dayeeta Das. For more Packaging news, click here. Click to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.