The speech was held at the seminar Packaging - the hero reducing food waste on the 22nd of January 2019.
My name is Carina Håkansson and I'm Director General of the Swedish Forest Industry Federation.
I'm so happy to welcome you to this seminar. Some of you might remember that we were here in April, with the purpose to start a conversation about bioeconomy. We want to share examples of how our daily choices can contribute to a sustainable life and to mitigating climate change. Whether it's how we live, what we wear or what we eat; we need to shift from brown and black fossils to green and blue renewables, and we need to do it faster than today. As Europeans, as nations, as corporations and as individuals – we all need to do our share.
As a forest nation, the bioeconomy of Sweden consists to a large extent of trees and all its products. With a long history of innovation in the industry, we can say for sure: everything you can make from oil, you can make from trees. As a result of active, responsible forestry we have doubled the volume of the forest in the last hundred years. Since the early 90-ies our forest Act has production and environment as equal goals and since then we have set aside some 30 percent from production to benefit biodiversity, and for every tree we harvest, we plant two new.
Now you might think: what do trees have to do with food? Humans can hardly eat birch and pine! Well, actually you can, but in other forms than our four-legged friends: for example the sweetener Xylitol comes from birch, thickeners for yoghurt from pulp-production and vanillin comes from spruce.
But on a larger scale, forest products are more likely to enclose our food, in the shape of disposables or packaging. And here comes the main contribution to a more sustainable and prosperous life for everyone: it's vital to understand that packaging is the hero and not the villain when it comes to food waste.
An unbelievable third out of all food produced in the world is not eaten - but ruined or thrown away. For the EU, that number is 20 percent. I was shocked when I learned of this. Not only is the waste a huge economic loss but it is also putting a lot of pressure on our planet.
Many times, the reason for this food waste is inadequate packaging, or no packaging at all. In the crucial task to feed a growing population while remaining within the boundaries or our precious planet we need to ensure that the food we produce, gets eaten. And to maximize the benefits for climate as well as humans, the packaging keeping the food fresh and safe should come from renewable and degradable biomaterials – from the forest.
Now, I'm really looking forward to hear the speakers here today share some of their best examples of how packaging is a hero when it comes to preventing food waste. And I'm looking forward to a good discussion among all the decision makers, researchers and all of you here, about how we can reinvent how we look at food, food packaging and the food industry. With a growing middle class and rapid urbanization, smart and recyclable packaging for food is essential to a safe and sustainable lifestyle.