A new group representing Australia's leading fresh fruit and vegetable companies has set its targets on making produce packaging 100% recyclable, newspaper The Australian has reported.
The recently formed Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) reportedly plans to work on achieving this with the country's top retailers, including the two leading players Coles and Woolworths which have vowed to cut back the use of plastics in the produce aisle.
“We are also looking at how can companies participate in closed loop systems where they get their recycled packaging back to re-use,” AFPA chief executive Michael Rogers, previously Hort Innovation's general manager of trade, was quoted as saying.
AFPA chairman Harry Debney, who is also CEO of Australia's largest vertically integrated fruit company Costa Group, told the publication 75 per cent of AFPA's members were already using fully recycled packaging.
In a press release, the newly formed AFPRA noted its members accounted for AUD$4.5 billion of the sector's AUD$9.1 billion in annual turnover, including AUD$410 million of the AUD$1.2 billion export total
Members include Perfection Fresh, Costa Group, Fresh Select, Mackays, Montague, One Harvest, LaManna Premier, Freshmax, Rugby Farms, Driscoll’s, Pinata Farms, Mitolo Group, 2PH Farms and Fresh Produce Group.
"Australian horticulture at the policy level has always been fragmented. It has lacked an ability to communicate with key retailers," Debney was quoted as saying.
"The retailers were very keen to have a representative group that spoke for the industry about issues like packaging, recycling, food waste, labour and people, trade access, land use, water security and pollination."
The initiative will also reportedly seek to find a balance with the benefits packaging innovations have created for reducing food waste.
"The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance will be first and foremost focused on achieving pragmatic solutions to some of the key issues facing the Australian fresh produce industry, including labour and people, packaging, waste, trade access, land use, water security and pollination," Debney said in the press release.
"Our aim is to not only represent the key industry players, but to also achieve outcomes on issues relevant to the broader industry."
Rogers highlighted the major contribution the Australian fresh produce industry made to the country's economic growth, emphasizing it deserved "a prominent seat at the table" for addressing economic, environmental and social issues faced by the industry.
"The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance has been established to perform this role and I look forward to working closely with government, retailers and other industry players to ensure our contribution is both meaningful and productive," Rogers said.