Fruit, vegetable producers warn plastic reductions could increase grocery costs


A proposed federal strategy to curb plastic packaging is on a timeline fruit and vegetable producers are calling “problematic” and “unrealistic.”

In August, consultations for the pollution prevention setting up detect for main foods plastic packaging ended up launched as the federal govt lookups for means to minimize the much more than 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste thrown absent every single 12 months.

“We hear it from Canadian from coastline to coastline to coast, that they despise seeing so significantly plastic wrapping,” claimed Setting and Local climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault.

The produce sector is anxious about the timelines of some of the proposed targets.

“Fresh fruits and greens are dispersed and marketed in bulk and/or plastic-free of charge packaging,” the Surroundings and Climate Change Canada website reads. “75 per cent by 2026 and 95 for each cent by 2028.”

“It’s in all probability not sensible,” reported Tilly Stewart, director of citrus at Star Generate in Calgary. “The way it is now published will change the entire world-wide food technique.”

Stewart’s corporation deals fresh new minimize fruit, in plastic offers, for sale at grocery shops.

She insists the industry is working on methods to lower its use of plastics, but at this time biodegradable alternate options are much too expensive.

“The engineering just isn’t there nonetheless,” Steward mentioned. “(The) biodegradable (plastic) field is fairly greenwashed correct now.”

A study received by CTV Information from the Canadian Create Marketing and advertising Association stated the proposed policies are predicted to move on a 30 per cent extra cost to the consumer.

The bigger prices arrive from transition to more high priced packaging supplies, inefficiencies in delivery and elevated meals waste.

“Everybody gets upset about the wrap on cucumbers,” reported CPMA President Ron Lemaire. “The problem you have is you have two days at home with your cucumber, as opposed to 15 days.”

Karen Wirsig, the senior plan manager for plastics at Environmental Defence, rejects the industry’s food stuff decline projections.

“There is absolutely no evidence that we are viewing a reduction in foods reduction and squander via the entire provide chain, due to the fact of that single use packaging,” she claimed.

Lemaire says the field would like to find strategies to have plastic packaging reused and recycled inside of a contained offer chain.

“It truly is a sophisticated foodstuff procedure,” Lemaire stated. “One particular conclusion on packaging can influence a total change in how persons behave and consume.”

A roll of plastic bags is viewed at a sector in Montreal on Thursday, June 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN Press/Paul Chiasson

Additional than two-thirds of all make eaten in Canada is imported, so there are fears of a trade chill as very well.

“You’re dealing with global trade companions, and manufactures that could just say ‘you know what, had been not ready to shift our manufacturing traces,’” reported Michael Zabaneh, Retail Council of Canada’s vice-president of sustainability.

Kaitlin Electric power, Guilbeault’s press secretary, reported in a statement that the detect is “not a regulation.”

“The Authorities is fully commited to advancing alternatives that steer clear of growing the charge of meals or meals waste in collaboration with grocers, other enterprises and stakeholders,” Power’s statement said. “We have been crystal clear that we want to collaborate with producers and grocers on applying remedies that exist, when staying away from unfavorable shopper and environmental results, and solutions normally are inaccurate.”

A federal ban on the sale of plastic checkout luggage, cutlery, stir sticks and other one-use plastics, comes into outcome on Dec. 20, 2023.

The approach to minimize plastic packaging, is section of the government’s “zero plastic waste by 2030” method.

Additional than 50 % of all the plastic waste thrown out in Canada is from packaging, in accordance to Data Canada, and most of it ends up in a landfill, incinerators, or in the ecosystem.

“We are about-wrapping products we have to end,” Wirsig said. “And a terrific area to start off is fruits and greens.”

The Environmental Defence plastic waste reduction expert says the government’s program is aimed at the so-named “big five,” grocery store giants, Loblaw, Metro, Walmart, Costco and Sobeys owner Empire Co.

“The big five in Canada, that command a lot of their very own supply chains,” Wirsig said. “Should be receiving on re-usable (goods) by means of their provide chain, and supplying all of their fruits and vegetables in bulk where attainable.”

Lemaire with CPMA warns, if some foods like blueberries are offered in bulk, there would be “astronomical food stuff loss.”

Some thing even Wirsig agrees with.

“Obviously this doesn’t get the job done for berries,” she explained. “So when we are heading to 95% (plastic-totally free packaging) by 2028, we are likely not like raspberries, and probably not cherries.”

“But just about every thing else could be carried out without plastic.”