Panel Discussion in European Parliament: How can Packaging contribute to Food Waste Reduction

On 26 November, PlasticsEurope organised a panel discussion in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The event, hosted by Ms Bonafè, MEP, brought together policy makers from the Commission and the European Parliament and representatives from the packaging industry and the food and drink industry. The topic: food waste and how packaging can help reduce such waste. The event took place during the European Week for Waste Reduction.

The panel included Karl Falkenberg (Director General Environment, European Commission), MEP Simona Bonafè (IT, S&D), rapporteur of the future Report on the Review of Waste Targets, MEP Davor Skrlec (HR, Green/EFA), MEP Iosu Juaristi Abaunz (SP, GUE/NGL), both shadow rapporteurs of the said report, as well as Jane Bickerstaffe (Director at INCPEN) and Eugenio Longo from Borealis who was representing PlasticsEurope.

After a warm welcome by PlasticsEurope Executive Director, Karl-H. Foerster, Mr Falkenberg introduced the topic, emphasising the immensity of the problem of food waste and referring to the work which the Commission had undertaken to date on the issue (http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food_waste/eu_actions/index_en.htm), but also mentioning the role which packaging plays in saving food from production to the shelf and the fact that most food waste occurred at consumer level.

Jane Bickerstaffe gave the retailers’ and brand owners’ perspective and strongly advocated in favour of innovation in packaging which extends shelf life and offers a greater degree of hygiene. She called on EU institutions to acknowledge that packaging was part of the solution to reducing food waste and to take this into account when setting new targets for plastics recycling.

Simona Bonafè highlighted the fact that half of the food produced in Europe ended up as waste and emphasised the importance of circular economy, calling on the European Commission to go forward with the proposal. She also fully supported the role of packaging in the fight against food waste.

Eugenio Longo, representing PlasticsEurope, focused on the contribution of plastic packaging to food waste reduction, its benefits and unique properties, and called for realistic recycling targets to be set; targets which would not jeopardise their role during the use phase . While he welcomed the 30% reduction target for food waste included in the Commission’s proposal, he called for the target to be binding. Davor Skrlec and Iosu Juaristi Abaunz both emphasized the role of consumers in reducing food waste and the latter also stressed the needs of less developed countries, and the fact that while we in Europe continue wasting huge amounts of food, malnutrition continues to be found in the world.

The speeches were followed by a panel discussion and exchanges with the audience that mainly focused on aspects within the Commission proposal on the review of waste a targets and the need to ban the landfilling of plastics by 2020.
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