Elimination of plastic packaging by 2022, “this obligation could have put us in danger”

The Agec law does not allow the sale of fruit and vegetables in plastic packaging by 2022, but the agricultural cooperative of Noirmoutier was able to benefit from an exemption.

The Agec law, anti-waste law for a circular economy, imposes an obligation, by 2022, to sell fresh fruit and vegetables in packaging other than plastic packaging, However, given its specificity, the early potato of Noirmoutier benefits from an exemption, as do three other categories of fruit and vegetables that can still be packed in their current packaging until December 31st, 2024. Nicolas Paille, director of the agricultural cooperative, answered our questions.

How did you react to the news?
Nicolas Paille: “All the actors of the sector are relieved. This obligation could have put the cooperative in danger, along with all the jobs involved.”

When did you learn about this obligation?
“We were informed about this obligation in November 2019 for an implementation in January 2021. We knew that the societal demand in terms of waste reduction was very high. We are aware of it but we simply cannot find a solution in such a short amount of time.”

Why is it so complicated to pack these early potatoes?
“Our plastic packaging is a technical packaging that maintains freshness and stops the early potato from becoming green. This potato is immature. It is harvested and consumed before reaching maturity, before forming the protective skin that would prevent it from becoming green. It cannot be exposed to light, which complicates the choice of packaging.”

In 2020, you created a cardboard box for this product…
“70% of the consumer sales units were in plastic packaging. Between June 2020 and March 2021, we urgently developed a new packaging in the shape of this cardboard box protecting from light and preventing the potatoes from becoming green. For this operation, we had to invest in packing and distribution machines. Thanks to this investment, we were able to market 20% of our sales units in this new packaging in the spring of 2021. This small collective achievement was made possible by our executive board, our suppliers and the staff of our cooperative. We were able to explain our difficulties to deputy Stéphane Buchou (LREM) who helped us obtain an exemption, as well as a subsidy under the recovery plan. It will provide financial support for future investments in new machinery.”

How are you preparing for this change?
“At the moment, we are working on new containers. We hope to reach 35% of our sales in cardboard packaging for the 2022 season. First, consumers must adapt to this change of packaging. The transition must take place with trust and with a plan, all of this gradually.”

Source: actu.fr 

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