By Paola Gosio, policy analyst at White Research

On Thursday 30 September my two friends and I were invited by the European Parliament to present our petition on the reduction of plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables. Through this petition, we called for a revision of Directive 94/62/EC and Directive 2019/904, as they do not sufficiently address this problem. We pointed out that fruits and vegetables are increasingly being sold in plastic wrapping, representing a threat to the environment and people’s health. 

Plastic pollution is a global issue of increasing concern. Every year, more and more plastic ends up in the natural environment, endangering human and animal life. The European Union (EU) has been tackling the plastic pollution issue by implementing measures such as Directive 94/62/EC aimed at reducing the production of packaging waste, and Directive 2019/9049 on the reduction of single-use plastic.

Nevertheless, figures show that the issue of packaging waste not only persists, but it has even gotten drastically worse, with 59% of the total plastic waste in Europe stemming from packaging. Consider this. Fruits and vegetables, natural products that can often be sold without any packaging, are increasingly offered pre-packed in plastic, causing the most environmentally friendly product to  become one of the worst offenders when it comes to  packaging and recycling.

In this context, there is no specific Directive created that tackles the issue of plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables. Therefore, in 2019 My friends Michelle Wiesner, Nina Grmuša and I, wrote a petition to the European Parliament (EP) asking for a revision of Directive 94/62/EC and Directive 2019/904. The petition was accepted and processed in 2020. On 30 September 2021, we were called to present our plea during a European Parliament’s session with MEPs and Commissioners working on the subject.

This has been a great opportunity to discuss one of the crucial issues at the heart of the EU’s sustainability goals, but also a great stage to show how the voice of ordinary citizens can reach the institutions and be a spark for change.

The journey towards sustainability and a circular economy is still long and complex, yet through a collective commitment towards sustainability issues, people’s voices will become louder and the process faster. As Helen Keller once said: “Alone We Can Do So Little. Together We Can Do So Much”.