The Royal Decree on Containers and Container Waste of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition aims to transform packaging to prevent and reduce the impact they have on the environment. It has the ambitious goal of achieving that all packaging placed on the market is 100% recyclable by 2030, and whenever possible, reusable.
"Starting the transition is mandatory since January 2023 if we want to achieve this by 2030," stated Antonio Jesus Perez, a producer of berries from La Teja, an area located between Rociana, Almonte, and Bonares. He has approximately 22 hectares with 800,000 strawberry and 250,000 raspberry plants, i.e. an average plantation in the province of Huelva, and each year allocates around 215,000 euro in packaging. 40% of it is currently made out of plastic.
“We have a double problem right now. They demand that we change from plastic to cardboard at the same time that plastic becomes more expensive because of transportation problems and the energy crisis. In the end, we are assuming a double increase: plastic is more expensive and so is the alternative.”
The draft Royal Decree bans the sale of fruit and vegetables in plastic containers in retail businesses in Spain starting 2023. However, this ban does not apply to fruits and vegetables packed in batches of 1.5 kilograms or more, nor does it apply to fruits and vegetables that risk deteriorating when sold in bulk.
Some suppliers are even beginning to impose sustainable packaging as brand criteria within their marketing policy, stated Antonio Jesus. La Teja, for example, has created a gourmet line with a wholesaler that demands that everything go in cardboard and has no plastic. "They are specific requests and they assume the extra costs, but they show us where we are headed in the near future.”
The increase in expenses is also reflected in the elements used in plastic production or irrigation, as prices have had an unprecedented increase. "This year I have spent 3,000 euro more on irrigation tapes and I purchased the same amount of meters as last year," stated Antonio Jesus. Many suppliers, alerted by the transportation crisis and the risks of shortages, prefer to give prices week by week instead of making a budget for the entire campaign.
Francisco Alfaro, from Pilonar Berries, estimates the cost of packaging will increase threefold in the future. "A thousand plastic packages for 125 grams of blueberries or raspberries cost 13 euro, while a thousand cardboard packages cost up to 44 euro."