MORE than 200 companies and organisations took part in a virtual meeting this week to discuss sustainable food packaging and the ever-growing problem of single-use plastics.

The professionals debated the latest innovations in the field and current strategies to combine efficient packaging with sustainability, with the focus on recycling.

High on the agenda was the Residue Law, the first draft of which was recently passed by the Spanish government.

This piece of legislation ais aimed at promoting circular economy, boosting recycling and drastically reducing waste generation, plus restoring polluted areas and eliminating all traces of asbestos still found in towns and cities throughout the country.

A new taxation system on single-use containers and plastics will be set up to make sure that ‘who pollutes, pays’, with bonuses for rubbish separation, a drive to cut food wastage, and banning retailers from destroying non-perishable, unsold goods such as toys, clothes and electronic devices.

Plastics

The different requirements of the law, if it is finally passed, will be introduced gradually over the next few years.

Speakers at the virtual meeting highlighted the problems faced by producers when it comes to meeting European standards, including a lack of EU and national guidelines for the manufacture of 100% recyclable packaging.

Other professionals insisted that ‘food protection is non-negotiable’, suggesting that sustainability should be a priority but not at the expense of product conservation, pointing out that ‘packaging is a key tool in the fight against food wastage’.

Work is already underway on a number of possible solutions to the dilemma. These include making recycling easier for the consumer by separating materials, increasing the use of recycled materials in the manufacture of new products, and boosting compostable and biodegradable components.

All speakers agreed on the need to explore different solutions to attain EU sustainability goals, with the involvement of every link in the production chain.

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