Director of the Food Packaging Forum, Jane Muncke, responded to a call for comments by the UN Food Systems Summit Scientific Group with a letter suggesting the group includes plastic pollution in their strategy document for the upcoming UN meeting. The document, Science and Innovations for Food Systems Change: Opportunities for the UN Food Systems Summit, outlines “science-driven innovations… and their related goal-oriented actions” to guide cooperation among stakeholders both at the Food Systems Summit 2021 and after. Muncke argued in her letter that “food packaging is a symptom of how society produces and consumes food today, and the problems associated with food packaging can only be addressed by tackling food systems as a whole,” the intent of the Summit.
Muncke opens the letter by calling attention to the visible reminders of the plastic pollution crisis – citing recent research that has identified plastic food packaging as the primary source of plastic litter (FPF reported), but she soon transitions to a brief review of plastic pollution’s less visible impacts. In particular, that chemicals can leach from plastic packaging not only into the natural environment, but into human food, and through both pathways, ultimately into our bodies (FPF reported, also here and here). It is the shape of the current globalized food system, Muncke states, that drives the continued use of these problematic forms of food packaging (FPF reported). For this reason, she argues that humanity needs to discuss the problem of food packaging at an action-oriented multidisciplinary meeting like the Food Systems Summit provides.
The UN Food Systems Summit 2021 takes place on September 23, 2021 during the UN General Assembly in New York. Participation is online.
Jane Muncke (July 2021). “Comment on the Food Systems Summit strategic paper.”
Joachim von Braun, et al. (July 16, 2021). “Science for Transformation of Food Systems: Opportunities for the UN Food Systems Summit.” United Nations Food System Summit