Food Drink Ireland (FDI), the Ibec group that represents the food and drink industries, today hosted an industry briefing on the future of plastic packaging and reaffirmed its commitment to the circular economy of packaging. The event highlighted Ireland’s collection rate of 82% of plastic packaging. Industry representatives also called for improved national recycling infrastructure, including segregated street bins.
Linda Stuart-Trainor, FDI Director of Prepared Consumer Foods, stated: “Packaging is essential in bringing many food and drinks to our tables. It helps reduce food waste and protects quality and freshness. Packaging ensures people get what they want when they want it, in good condition and with little wastage. The environmental impact of avoidable household food waste is eight times greater than the impact of total packaging waste going to landfill.”
At the event, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) explored the important safety concerns when it comes to packaging materials that are in contact with food and outlined the regulations that producers must adhere to. Teagasc highlighted the role of innovation in the future of packaging and the research technology available in the new Prepared Consumer Foods Centre. Kerry Foods and Musgrave shared producer and retailer perspectives.
Ms. Stuart-Trainor continued: “FDI members have a strong focus on sustainable sourcing, resource efficiency and sustainable consumption. Packaging is an important pillar within this approach and includes measures such as efficient use of natural resources, reduced packaging weight, refills, less packaging, awareness and education programmes on packing use and recycling and research and development.
“Our existing waste packaging collection and recycling scheme in Ireland – Repak – receives multimillion-euro funding from food and drinks companies. Before industry began funding Repak, over 90% of all packaging went to landfill. Now less than 10% goes to landfill. Providing segregated recycling bins in public would reduce on-the-go littering while increasing recycling rates.”