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EC must be more than a spectator on active and intelligent packaging

By Rory Harrington , 02-May-2012

A lack of urgency by the European Commission is partly responsible for the slower than expected uptake of active and intelligent packaging (AIP) and Brussels should introduce a raft of measures, including tax breaks, to speed up adoption of the technology by the food industry.

This is the verdict of Eef de Ferrante, director, Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association, (AIPIA), who has called on the Commission to up its game if it is serious about promoting technological advances to combat the growing problem of food waste.

“The EC is very good at stating its goals – say on reducing food waste - but the important question is bringing in practical measures showing how to achieve this,” he said. “I like the goal and we as an association have the solutions to help achieve this in terms of extending the shelf life and monitoring the condition of food through the supply chain.”

Tax breaks

De Ferrante suggested the top priority is for Brussels to call on producers to adopt freshness indicators and active packaging solutions that extend shelf life.

“The EC needs to push practical measures to encourage industry to use AIP more because it is an effective solution to prevent food waste. We would prefer facilitation rather than legislation – but if facilitation isn’t effective, then perhaps legislation might be necessary,” he said.

The cost of AIP technology is still a barrier for some food brand owners but the AIPIA director proposed the EC introduce financial incentives to spur take up.

“If the EC wants to facilitate something, then they must create the best environment,” he said. “The most powerful instrument is tax. If they stimulate industry with tax opportunities for AIP, then this would reduce the amount of food waste.”

Flesh out regulatory framework

De Ferrante also urged the EC to add the crucial details to current rules that would boost the introduction of AIP and help tackle the spectre of soaring food waste.

“The current guidelines and regulations just don’t go far enough in providing that detail,” he added. “For example, Brussels wants to review packaging and labelling but they must support these aims with action. They said they want a basic framework but now is the time to fill in the details.”

The AIPIA chief called on EU actors to work more closely with industry because it is trade players that will need to implement the measures.

“The EC needs to speed up implementation. It can’t wait five years but needs to act within two,” he declared.

He added: “This very gradual pace of change is partly responsible for slow industry take up of AIP. But I understand that politics is slow as it necessary to discuss issues with many countries. However, I wish they would streamline the organisation and organise themselves better.”