Reducing plastic is a hot topic worldwide. For example, in the EU, various types of disposable plastic are banned. France takes it a step further by adopting the Agec Act, which bans plastic packaging of fruits and vegetables, among other things.
Since January 1, 2022, fruit and vegetables may no longer be sold in plastic packaging in France. This new law is "Contre le Gaspillage" (against waste) and is in favor of the circular economy.
What the Agec Act implies
The law prohibits the packaging of fruits and vegetables or parts thereof, such as stems, leaves, and seeds, in plastic. Not only plastic trays and sealed trays are prohibited, but also plastic (adhesive) tape, which is used for bananas, for example, is no longer allowed. In France, 37% of all fruits and vegetables were packaged, half of which in plastic. With the Agec Act, the French government expects to reduce plastic packaging by more than one billion units per year.
30 products in sustainable packaging
In practice, the new law appears to apply to some 30 products. Those products must from now on be sold either without or in paper packaging.
This pertains to the following vegetables: Leeks, Zucchini, Eggplant, Bell pepper, Cucumber, Potatoes, Carrots, Round Tomatoes, Onions, Turnips, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Squash, Parsnip, Radish, Topinambour, and Root vegetables.
The Agec Act applies to the following fruits: Apples, Pears, Oranges, Clementines, Kiwis, Mandarins, Lemons, Grapefruit, Plums, Melons, Pineapples, Mangoes, Passion fruit, and Khaki.
Grace period and exceptions
There are exceptions to this new rule. The following products are subject to a transition period until 2023 or until 2026. These products may still be sold in plastic packaging during the grace period:
- Delicate fruits and vegetables (such as cherry tomatoes, brussels sprouts, green beans, spring onions, grapes, peaches, nectarines and apricots, leafy greens, and bean sprouts)
- Small fruits (such as cherries and cranberries)
- Processed produce (such as sliced fruit)
- Soft fruit (such as blackberries)
- Ripened delicate produce
Plastic packaging may also be used in the case that more than 1.5 kg of a product is packed.
The law in comparison to the Netherlands
The Agec Act goes further than the European rules. Also, in the Netherlands, the law is not yet as strict. However, the Netherlands is working hard to reduce plastic packaging. For example, this year, Dutch supermarkets aim to use 10% less packaging material for fruits and vegetables compared to 2018. Albert Heijn and Lidl also no longer provide plastic shopping bags, and Albert Heijn wants to reduce their plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables by 2025.
JASA's sustainable packaging
The new French law comes as a surprise to many and therefore brings additional challenges to various companies and entrepreneurs, also for Julien Ferte, director of Hexa-Pac. We spoke to Julien about the Agec Act and what it entails for his company.
"At Hexa-Pac, we strive to offer the best packaging solutions and machines, from the infeed to the end of the packaging line. We listen to the customer's needs and offer appropriate technical solutions. Now that this new law has been introduced, the wants and needs of customers have changed, and new suitable packaging solutions must be identified. JASA can be of help."
Product leader in the field of paper packaging
JASA Packaging Solutions is a market leader and product leader in paper packaging. "We can process all types of paper and other sustainable packaging materials on our packaging lines. Years ago, we turned our focus to paper packaging. We made that choice because we at JASA consider it essential to contribute to reducing plastic and aim to make a positive impact on the environment. As a result, we now have years of experience with all kinds of paper solutions. With our innovative and environmentally friendly packaging, we have gained a unique place in the market."
All paper types under one roof
Unique to JASA is that we can process all paper and cardboard types and packaging on our packaging machines. For example: Vertically packed, fully coated, partially coated, with or without sealing, horizontally packed, sleeves and plano solutions.
Julien: "You don't simply switch from plastic to paper packaging. After all, you don't only want to achieve the best packaging, but rather the best combination of the product, the packaging, and the packaging material. JASA is a resourceful, experienced, and reliable partner in paper packaging. We give independent advice and brainstorm with you about the best (paper) solution for your product."
Flexible packaging lines
The Agec Act requires flexibility, both from companies and packaging lines. Julien points out: "Some customers have invested substantially in a packaging machine, for example, to process film packaging. Now that they suddenly need to turn to paper material, we together need to determine the best solution. That is why we at JASA have developed the Hybrid packaging machine. This machine enables JASA to also package in paper quickly, flexibly, and with minimal changeover times."
The revolutionary Hybrid packaging machine combines the intermittent JASA350 packaging machine and the JASA Continuous Machine. This combination ensures proper sealing pressure and features an interchangeable sealing system in the packaging machine. The interchangeable sealing system offers the possibility to apply the most suitable sealing profile per packaging material. It is even possible to switch to a different packaging material within minutes.
Sustainable packaging for a sustainable future
The new French law shows how the packaging industry can contribute to a sustainable environment. With our eco-friendly and turn-key solutions, we can help you to give your product sustainable packaging.
Julien: "It is good and in everyone's interest that we in the packaging industry continue to improve, also in terms of sustainability. That brings the necessary challenges and risks, but that is simply part of the business."
If you would like to know more about all the paper solutions that JASA offers, visit the open days from 20 – 24 June.
North-America and Canada:
JASA Packaging Solutions Inc.