Fruit and vegetable producers are looking at ways to make fresh produce packaging recyclable, after
The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) revealed that packaging reduces fresh food waste.
The research undertaken by RMIT University and environmental software company Empauer indicates fresh produce packaging can help mitigate the $20 billion of food wasted each year in Australia.
The study observed the lifecycle of 10 fresh produce items with and without packaging, and found the benefits of packaging fresh produce included product protection, extension of shelf life and the ability to communicate product information to consumers.
“AFPA recognises that consumers are concerned about the level of type of packaging that is used for fresh produce, what this research demonstrates is that there are real practical reasons for using packaging for certain types of fresh produce,” said Michael Rogers, AFPA CEO.
“It’s shocking to think that an estimated 7.3 million tonnes of food valued at $20 billion dollars is lost or wasted every year in Australia, while rates of obesity are rising due to poor diet and low intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is important that consumers better understand why producers utilise particular packaging formats, whether it be to ensure product integrity in the supply chain, extend shelf life and/or reduce food waste.”
He said that using punnets for berry packaging is a better option for the environment as the waste generated from damaged, unsellable fruit actually outweighs the impact of utilising the punnet.
“This research is important because it highlights a number of reasons as to why packaging is needed for fresh produce items. Shelf life and product integrity are the obvious benefits of packaging, but correctly designed packaging also acts to reduce the incidence of food waste, which is a far bigger issue and of growing concern, particularly with respect to the need to increase sustainable food production to feed the world and adapt to climate change,” inaugural AFPA chairman and Costa chief executive Harry Debney said to The Australian.
AFPA includes members from fresh produce growers and suppliers led by Costa, Perfection Fresh and Montague. It also involves Driscoll’s, the OneHarvest family of companies, Pinata Farms, Fresh Select, Mitolo, Mackay’s Banana Marketing, 2PH Farms, LaManna Premier, Rugby Farming, Freshmax and Fresh Produce.
Currently, 75 per cent of the organisations members have converted to using recycled packaging. Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths last year revealed plans to reduce plastic wrapping on fresh produce.