New report links fruits and vegetables sold in plastic to food waste

April 19th, 2018

A new report calls attention to how the level of fruits and vegetables sold in plastic bags or multi-packs in supermarket chains and manufacturers in contributing to an increase in both food and plastic waste.

The report from Friends of the Earth Europe and Zero Waste Europe reveals Europeans dispose of more than 30kg of plastic packaging per person each year that most of the plastic packaging is used only once.

According to the report, it is estimated that 37 per cent of all food sold in the EU is wrapped in plastic, with Europe’s total demand for plastic a whopping 49 million tonnes per year.

The study states that demand by retailers for fresh produce to fit cosmetic specs such as size or shape results in good quality edible food being discarded as waste.

It is reported that food waste costs the EU an estimated 143 billion every year.

The report states that practices such as chopping green beans to fit a certain packaging size results in 30-40 per cent of the beans being wasted.

Fresh Food In Garbage Can To Illustrate Waste Photo: USDA

Packing produce like citrus fruits, onions and garlic in plastic mesh nets are amongst the practices adopted by supermarket chains to get customers to buy more than they need, the report adds.

“Wrapping, bottling and packing food in plastic doesn’t systemically prevent food waste, and sometimes even causes it,” said Meadhbh Bolger, resource justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.

She urged the need for EU decision makers ‘to listen to the “growing public appetite to quit plastics” and help Europe lead in adopting “strict rules to limit throw away plastics”.

She also called for European leaders shift the EU toward localised food systems without disposable packaging.

According to estimates from Food and Agriculture Organization roughly 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally every year. The food wasted in Europe alone can feed 200 million people.

Countries in the European Union with high packaging intensities like Germany France and the UK are responsible for 900,000 tonnes of plastic packaging per country each year.

About the Author

Ramya Ramalingam

Ramya is studying for a Masters in Media Management at Griffith College Dublin. She is passionate about photography and film and has a keen interest in environmental issues.

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