Last week in London, FPI held it eighth joint meeting with
our “sister” association, Pack2Go Europe. Since 2001, our two groups have come
together every two years to discuss, in a nutshell, the challenges and
opportunities both sides of the pond are facing.
Two common themes over the years have been the regulatory
challenges and market opportunities. When it comes to regulation, we’ve seen the
threats pop up in Europe first, travel to Canada and eventually make their way
to the United States. Extended producer responsibility (a topic I presented on
in London) is a great example, and the next thing brewing on both horizons is
the notion of a circular economy, as shared by Pack2Go’s Gregory Ruessmann.
But the regulatory challenges addressed in London weren’t
just limited to legislative concerns. Several speakers, including Hazel O’Keefe
from Keller and Heckman; Laurent Ruessmann of FieldFisher; and Mike Turner with
International Paper Foodservice Europe, shed light on different and perhaps
soon to be converging compliance requirements for the packaging supply chain –
and the importance of adhering to these stringent requirements.
On the market opportunities front, we’ve typically seen
foodservice trends start on our side of the pond and travel to Europe. The
spread of American chains across Europe and foodservice growth drivers were
topics discussed by Horizons’ Peter Backman at our meeting. Perhaps more
interesting for the Americans in attendance was the growth of the foodservice
industry in Europe, dominated by just five countries: France, Italy, Germany,
Spain and the UK. Blogger and packaging engineer Anton Steeman provided more
food for thought in the trends arena, asking attendees to consider future packaging
needs given changing foodservice venues like vending machines (not sure I’m
ready for a fine dining meal out of a vending machine, but time will tell!).
London also provided a natural (and timely) backdrop to
consider how changing politics and economics in the UK and the broader European
Union will impact the North American and European foodservice packaging
industries. Presentations by Dr. Leila Simona Talani of King’s College London,
Fabian Zuleeg from the European Policy Centre and University of Nottingham’s
Dr. Matthew Goodwin painted an interesting picture of a changing UK and Europe
as a whole.
The topic of the UK and its future in the European Union was
covered by a compelling keynote speech by Laura Sandys, former Member of the UK
Parliament. It was certainly a highlight of the two day meeting, and of course,
it didn’t hurt that her speech took place in the great “Painted Hall” at the
Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich!
To bring things full circle, two drivers of anti-foodservice
packaging legislation and regulation were addressed: recovery and litter. Case
in point: David Schisler’s presentation on legislation looming in France. It
was clear that proactive efforts to increase the recovery of packaging and
decrease the amount of it that ends up as litter or marine debris were needed.
Examples were shared by former Pack2Go Europe President Tony Waters (describing
the Clean Europe Network), INCPEN’s Jane Bickerstaffe (touting the benefits
provided by all packaging) and Natha and me (highlighting FPI’s recovery groups
and outreach to groups like Keep American Beautiful, Ocean Conservancy and the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
In the end, we realized the two sides of the pond are not so
very different – and that working together might help us better address our
common challenges and opportunities. Stay tuned!
Posted By Lynn M. Dyer (President) | 6/10/2015 11:27:29 AM