Canada’s Plastic Proposal Concerns Florida Growers

Tacy Callies International, Regulation

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The Florida produce industry, including citrus, recently voiced concerns regarding Canada’s proposal to reduce the use of fresh produce plastic packaging. Organizations represented in a Florida letter to the director of Canada’s Plastics Regulatory Affairs Division include Florida Citrus Packers, Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA), Florida Blueberry Growers Association, Florida Strawberry Growers Association and Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

In August, the Canadian government published a pollution prevention planning notice for plastic food packaging as part of ongoing efforts to address plastic waste and pollution. Of note for the Florida produce industry, the plan aims to ensure 75% of fruits and vegetables are distributed and sold in bulk or plastic-free packaging by 2026, and at least 95% by 2028.

It is anticipated the proposed plan will be finalized soon, FFVA stated. The Florida produce industry is requesting that the Canadian government postpone the adoption of the proposed plan. It asks that the government work with industry to develop practical solutions that are sound and sustainable, maintain food safety and are tenable for both the industry and consumer.

“While we share the goal of reducing single-use plastics, we are concerned that the (Canadian government) does not have a full understanding of the produce industry, its supply chain, and the ramifications of implementing this policy in its current form,” the letter states. “We believe the proposed policy could negatively impact fresh fruit and vegetable availability, consumption, consumer prices, food safety, and shelf life, and lead to an unintentional increase in food waste.”

According to the letter, shipping data provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services indicates Florida provides approximately 1 billion pounds of fresh produce per year to Canada, which equates to more than $473 million.

Source: FFVA