FPA Monitors Issues and Legislation Involving Food Waste

FPA Monitors Issues and Legislation Involving Food Waste

Food waste is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The current goal set by the United Nations Global Compact, Paris Accord, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to cut food waste and loss by 50% by 2030 at the retail and consumer levels and along production and supply chains. In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30% and 40% of the food supply. Thus, the Biden administration released its “Draft National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics.” It identifies concrete steps—and complementary EPA, USDA, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actions—that will accelerate the prevention of food loss and waste across the entire supply chain while recycling waste that is created with other organics.

Packaging is a positive contributor to reducing food waste. Flexible packaging, particularly flexible plastic and multi-material packaging, extends the transport and shelf life of many types of food. And its convenience benefits such as resealability, cook-and-serve packaging, portion control, and portability also contribute directly to reducing food waste once it is in the consumer’s hands. The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) was disappointed that the draft strategy did not delve into more detail about the benefits of the right packaging for food products in reducing waste. That is particularly important when many state and federal policymakers continue to focus on packaging waste without considering the environmental and societal impact of product waste, an issue that the right packaging for the product can decrease.

FPA submitted comments to articulate those benefits and amplify our message that true circularity lies in modernizing the U.S. recycling infrastructure to collect, sort, and recycle or compost packaging. Efforts should not ban or limit the use of this valuable resource that lessens product loss and environmental harm in other areas such as food waste. Infrastructure investment in recycling and composting would drive innovation and economic growth and would get EPA, USDA, and FDA to their goal of addressing climate change while considering environmental justice concerns and the potential to reduce food and nutrition insecurity. They don’t need to ban necessary packaging, tax plastics, or impose moratoriums on new plastic production—as proposed in at least two federal bills currently.

FPA will also update its 2014 report titled “The Role of Flexible Packaging in Reducing Food Waste” this year. Ten years later, FPA expects the advancements and innovation in the sector should provide additional insights on where flexible packaging can continue to prevent food waste and its unique characteristics that lead to a reduction in food waste during distribution, sale, and use. An updated report will provide the Biden administration and the states with the needed data to make informed decisions. FPA welcomes the opportunity to highlight this vital aspect of the industry.

Alison Keane, Esq., IOM, CAE
President and CEO
Flexible Packaging Association