Almost every day there are reports of attempts to reduce the flood of plastic. Often the fruit and vegetable trades are in the crossfire. Something has to be done, people in the industry agree - but what? Some possible options were discussed earlier this month at the first European Packaging Forum in Düsseldorf. Numerous experts traveled there to inform visitors about topics such as Recycling, Marketing and environmentally sound alternatives. FreshPlaza was there.
Is cardboard the only alternative?
If you think about reducing packaging waste, many paper and cardboard come to mind as a more natural alternative. However, these are not the only options, emphasize several speakers.
Dr. Melanie Kröger (University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde) & Elke Jahn (Interseroh Pool-System)
Dr. Melanie Kröger, from the University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde, is working on the Unverpackt project. She presented the social science framing of the "unpackaged" phenomenon: The more than 120 "unpackaged" shops are said to be a "change agent" and a positive example for the reduction of plastic waste. According to Kröger, Germany would be the in third place of the countries in Europe with the most packaging waste. "These stores are a niche, but trendy, and are visited by different consumer groups, and they also inspire others: many health food stores and supermarkets now offer areas of bulk goods." In Germany, these shops are often still owner-managed, in France, for example, there already is a real franchise system. The concept works - although for the time being only on a small scale and mainly for dry goods.
(Not) on the wrong track
In many presentations and discussions, Uwe Groll, of the GROW Association for Environmentally Friendly Wood Packaging eV, saw how important the role of wooden crates could really be: "I often thought today: go for wood; you will have solved your problems", he jokes at the beginning of his breakout session. "Wood, regionality and honesty are in demand - our packaging combines all that. It's a naturally renewable raw material that uses only solar energy and rainwater to make it, and the wooden crates are reusable and recyclable."
Dr. Hans-Christoph Behr (AMI) and Uwe Groll (Grow e.V.)
But wood is not only socially beneficial. It has been scientifically proven that wood packaging has a positive effect on the goods: Florence Aviat, of YouR-ResearcH, has been extensively involved with wood as packaging material and briefly presented her findings to the audience.
Dr. Florence Aviat, YouR-ResearcH
"The most ecological paper worldwide on an industrial scale"
In the intermediate step between plastics and all-natural wood packaging, Uwe D'Agnone found his grass paper: Grass (for example, from compensation areas or golf courses) is dried without chemical treatment and then it is pressed into pellets. These can, according to the entrepreneur, be used directly and without additional investment for paper production. "We need almost no water and only one-tenth of the energy needed to make wood fiber paper, and on an industrial scale we have the most ecological paper in the world." He is now allowed to supply almost all retailers in Germany with fruit and vegetable trays from his material and offers a large selection of (hydrophobic) products.
Uwe D'Agnone, Creapaper GmbH
The lecture series clearly showed that packaging is not always dispensable, but that there are alternative options. All in all, the many representatives of the industry were satisfied with the event: they found new ways of thinking and made contacts for the future. Many will return next year.