FEDEMCO is committed to recycling

The creation of the Ecowoox® brand is an important step forward on this point and it is ahead of the new legislation that will come into effect in 2025
Enrique Soler

Fruit Today magazine talked to Enrique Soler, Chairman of the Spanish Federation of Wooden Packaging and Components (FEDEMCO) about the challenges to be faced during his term.

Over the past year Fedemco has made some important changes both in its organisation and in its goals. Could you go into this in greater depth?

The Federation’s redesigning responds to a new world reality of the sector, which requires the creation of a strategy and of goals that must be added to the purpose behind the establishment of FEDEMCO. However, the main goal continues to be the positioning of wooden packaging as the reference material to be used. Due to its properties, sustainability, contribution to the circular economy…. to a series of reasons that we must shout out loud and clear, the ones that differentiate us. And we must not only make this reach our client, the producer-packager, but also the end consumer.

How is the internationalisation of the Fedemco Grow concept evolving?

At FEDEMCO, as the founding members of GROW-Group Recycling of Wood, we have always been very active, advocating the idea of working hand in hand with Europe to look after the interests of wooden packaging together. Periodically, we keep in contact with our Italian, French and German partners, who are the current members of GROW. Recently, it was agreed to establish GROW’s head offices in Brussels to make the dialogue with the European institutions easier. At the moment, we are immersed in the monitoring of the legislative development that is being carried out by the European Commission on materials in contact with foodstuffs, where FEDEMCO has communicated its sectorial positioning. Furthermore, the evolution of the Federation has led us to start up conversations with counterpart federations, which are showing great interest in joining GROW.

The concept of recyclability has evolved, and GROW must adapt to the demands of the European Regulation proposal for packaging waste that refers to the CEN regulation.

FEDEMCO, keeping ahead of the regulation that will come into effect in 2025, has developed the European certification brand ECOWOOX® that accredits the recyclability of wooden packaging in accordance with the UNE/CEN regulation.

How has the Federation influenced the new Royal Decree on Packaging?

The outlook is positive. In general, what we are seeing is that all the regulations that are being started, both in Spain and in Europe, are aimed at asking for greater sustainability in packaging. Accordingly, wooden packaging is the ideal solution. We must take into account that it is the only raw material for packaging that is 100% recyclable, natural and biodegradable. The interest in our wooden packaging solutions is growing all the time, both in Spain and internationally, from the producer-packager sector to the retail sector itself.

What are the advantages of choosing wooden packaging for fruit and vegetable produce?

Really, wooden packaging has many strong points; starting with the fact that wood is a natural raw material. Wooden packaging does not only have a carbon footprint that captures more CO2 than is emitted in its production, the wood used to manufacture packaging comes from sustainable plantations, therefore contributing to the rural economy. The analysis of its life cycle shows that very little energy is needed to manufacture and recycle it, and it also does not require any water as the treatment process for wooden packaging waste involves mechanical crushing.

With regard to the marketing, wood is also a synonym for safety in the distribution sector. Wooden packaging has evolved with the market, adapting to logistic standards for palletisation, but always maintaining its natural nature and its strength, with its anti-bacterial and hygroscopic properties standing out, which regulate the level of humidity around the packaging and maintain an optimum level of humidity during transport.

How is wood acting regarding the increase in the price of raw materials?

In a similar way to other raw materials. Last year, very high prices were reached, but we are now observing that they are progressively dropping back to market prices. Likewise, there is still pressure on the price of the wood for packaging that should start to disappear.

The competitive advantage of wood over the next few years will be linked to the environmental cost of waste management, where other materials will see the expenses associated with recycling increase considerably.

What new developments or challenges will Fedemco have during your chairmanship?

FEDEMCO is going to continue representing and defending the interests of the wooden packaging sector, both in Spain and internationally. We have also marked out the challenge of addressing consumers to ensure that they know the recycling method our packaging requires, and that they can place it in the yellow container. Additionally, we are working to find other optimum, efficient solutions in collaboration with the wholesale markets, municipal markets and with small businesses.

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