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Michaël Wilde, Eosta:

“Turning point in use of laser technology almost reached”

The laser technology for fruit and vegetables has more and more product applications. The cost price of lasering fresh produce is now equal to the use of stickers or plastic packaging. According to Michaël Wilde of Eosta it’s only a matter of time before the turning point is reached, and both packers and retailers won’t be able to get around the laser technology anymore. “The chance that the use of plastic will be taxed more is quite high, especially if the climate accords are to be achieved after all.” Yet he doesn’t think plastic will disappear completely. “I only see a role for plastic if it plays a functional part.”

Calculating costs
“Plastic is still cheap in proportion, but it’s not so much the question of if but how long that will remain the case. As soon as the environmental damage caused by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is calculated pro rata and the investment costs of the laser technology have been earned back, you’ll reach that point,” Michaël continues.

Freshness argument
For some products, however, plastic will remain necessary for a while. “For products such as blueberries, plastic actually plays a role in keeping the product fresh, and therefore remains important. But you can also make a distinction between recyclable plastic and non-recyclable plastic. Yet it’s telling that the freshness argument of proponents of plastic packaging doesn’t always apply. A study of a Swedish supermarket chain proved, for example, that fruit and vegetables without plastic packaging sell quicker. The higher rate of circulation also translated into a quicker consumption, so that the freshness problem wasn’t quite as relevant.”

Imitation conventional sector
The laser technology was first brought in to reduce the use of plastic packaging in the organic assortments of supermarkets. That the technology is also becoming interesting for the conventional sector due to the current developments and favourable costs isn’t problematic according to Michaël. “It’s still simple to emphasise you’re dealing with organic fresh produce by means of signs and logos,” he concludes.

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