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Food rebels against rising costs due to new packaging regulations

Date: May 22, 2024 Time: 11:20:48

There are no ‘garbage minutes’ in this European legislature, which is about to conclude. This week the last plenary session is being held and the agenda is very packed, especially for the primary sector, which will see the ‘flexibilities’ proposed by Brussels for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the new Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste approved. 9 0% of single-use plastic bottles and metal containers for drinks, set for 2029, and the ban on single-use plastic containers for fruits, vegetables, food and drinks, among other products.

Regarding this last aspect, the main spokesperson for farmers and ranchers in Europe, Copa-Cogeca, expressed its fear in a statement that the European Parliament would endorse a draft Regulation that the sector does not hesitate to call “disproportionate” and ” counterproducer”. Along these lines, we ask that fresh fruits and vegetables be exempt from the restriction on the use of certain formats of single-use plastic packaging so that it does not represent a restriction on the free circulation of these productions throughout the European Union.

“An attack against the internal market”

For Juan Corbalán, director of the Agri-Food Cooperatives office in Brussels, the draft regulation is “well-intentioned” and remembers that “it does not only affect the agri-food sector.” However, he regrets that “the text is an attack against the internal market by maintaining the national laws approved before 2024, in countries like Spain, France and Belgium.” In this regard, Corbalán recalls that Spanish regulations are much more restrictive than European regulations and calls the Spanish and French position in the European Council “incomprehensible.” Both countries fought to maintain the validity of national regulations in their negotiations with MEPs.

“The text is an attack against the internal market by maintaining the national laws approved before 2024 in countries such as Spain, France and Belgium”, Juan Corbalán (Agri-Food Cooperatives)

Copa-Cogeca shares a similar fear and maintains that the future regulation represents a breakdown of the internal market due to “a very wide margin of subsidarity for the countries.” That is, they warn against maintaining the national regulations of countries such as Spain, Belgium and Spain in parallel with the European regulations. For the main European agricultural alliance, the future text will have “effects contrary to the sustainability objective it pursues” and they believe that it will represent an obstacle for primary producers to differentiate their crops. Which, in his opinion, in the long term will continue to undermine the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Corbalán cites the difficulties that export companies can face: “For example, in Spain the use of packaging of all types is prohibited for fruits weighing less than 1.5 kg, while in Germany plastic packaging is allowed. This It will mean more bureaucracy, higher costs and a decrease in competitiveness,” says the representative of Cooperatives. The head of the Brussels office of this agricultural organization adds that “60% of the fruit is exported” and regrets that the cooperatives are going to face “different regulations and lists of exceptions.” Corbalán is critical of the management of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition in this area and regrets that Teresa Ribera’s department has not met with them in 5 years.

Articles “too political”?

From the Spanish Association of Distributors, Self-Services and Supermarkets (Asedas) I believe that in 2030 all packaging will be recyclable.” However, Martínez “misses more dialogue and a position in Spain that is more in line with its sectors.”

From the Association of Distributors, Self-service and Supermarkets (Asedas) they miss greater dialogue “and a position in Spain that is more in line with its sectors”

In this sense, the head of Sustainability at Asedas believes that some articles of the future regulation are “too political” and regrets that issues such as the reuse of packaging have not been analyzed more carefully “since it is required to comply with a certain percentage.” Martínez acknowledges that it is a “very ambitious” goal that does not take into account that a reuse system involves “storage that does not exist in stores.” Regarding the prohibition of the use of single-use plastic containers for fresh fruits and vegetables, she points out that it is “an effective measure.” In this regard, she remembers that these containers have “a functionality” such as transportation and she cites other aspects that will require time to adapt, such as the mandatory percentages of recycled materials in the containers or the free space within them.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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