U.S., Europe follow different routes toward same goal of sustainability

Food and beverage packaging regulations for Europe and the United States have major differences. The European Union enforces stricter regulations that focus on reducing the packaging’s environmental impact and the waste disposal impact on human health, compared to the United States.

The European regulation REACH controls the use of chemicals in packaging and enforces restrictions on use of high risk chemicals, such as lead, hexavalent chromium, mercury and cadmium. This legislation also pushes companies to reduce the amount of packaging used in their products and to reduce the amount of waste their packaging produces. Materials must also be recyclable, incinerated with energy recovery or biodegradable.

Both the United States and European Commission imposes a total ban of bisphenol-A (BPA) on infant products. Studies have shown that the phthalates chemicals have been found to cause birth defects and reproductive malfunctions in humans. Globally, a ban on BPA and phthalates in food contract packaging is also being enforced by ISO regulations.

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Source: Packaging Digest

California Voters in Control of GMO Labeling Initiative

The demand for “transparency” when it comes to the origin and ingredients in food has come to the forefront. The use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) has been set to the California legislature, Californians will vote on the issue November 6th, 2012. If it is passed, it could result in dramatic changes and rigorous requirements for food packaging industry.

Genetically engineered crop mean they have changes introduced into their DNA to give more favorable characteristics, some examples are a resistance to pests. As of 2011, 94% of soy beans and 88% of corn planted in the United States have been genetically modified. One of the proponents to the GMO labeling is cigarette like warning labels because it is believed to have potential health risks; however there is no proof that GMO products are any more generous than non-genetically modified foods. Furthermore, those who wish to avoid GMO can rely on non-GMO labels.

The law in California, known as the “California right to know genetically engineered food act” will be presented on Nov. 6 in the general election, if passed the law would impose labeling requirements on food and beverage products in California (for list of restriction see article) provisions would impose significant burdens on food producers and packaging companies.  For packaging companies, they would be responsible for figuring out where to place the new label on top of already strict guidelines.

GMO labeling in California is no accident, California’s regulations always have an impact nationwide especially for companies who produce nationwide, have to create two different packaging labels and SKUs. Lastly, if California voters approve this legislation it would be challenged in court immediately on various grounds.

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