The Blue Box Program is meant to reduce waste from the sector, but the OFVGA in their response look to address potential issues for growers that could arise from the program. The OFVGA states that the sector is aware that change is necessary to reduce waste production, and that the sector is looking for "alternate [packaging] materials that meet food safety, sustainability, end-use, and economic viability criteria that meets the needs of producers, marketers and consumers."
However, as a sector that is responsible for getting safe, fresh fruits and vegetables to consumers, the OFVGA wants to ensure that policy changes consider a few things to limit undue impact on the sector.
The OFVGA restates in their letter the necessity of packaging in order to provide healthy and safe produce to customers. They state that the sector has improved packaging to increase food safety, increase produce quality and freshness, and to prevent pilfering from retail displays.
The next point that is addressed in the letter is competitiveness: "Due to international competition, the Ontario fruit and vegetable sector competes on the basis of price. If costs for inputs, such as packaging, in Ontario increase disproportionately compared to other growing regions, the competitiveness of the sector will be put at risk." So it is of importance to keep in mind that domestic growers need to retain the possibility of being competitive in the international market.
The letter also addresses the potential of more clearly defining who needs to foot the bill for the packaging in the updated Blue Box Program. "For example, an argument could be made that retailers should be responsible for paying the recycling costs. Often it is retailers that set parameters for packaging specifications required before they will sell a product. Collecting from retailers would also ensure that packaging from domestic and imports would be treated equally. Retailers would become incentivized to work with their suppliers to reduce packaging, or use materials that are more easily recycled."
The full letter addresses these issues and more in an attempt to pre-emptively highlight potential issues that could come with changes in the Blue Box Program.
Read the full letter here.