Replacing cardboard boxes with 2,000 reusable plastic totes earned Full Belly Farm, a certified organic farm in California, an Excellence in Reusable Packaging Award from the Reusable Packaging Association.
The plastic totes are filled with produce for weekly deliveries to families and then picked up and returned to the farm for reuse the following week. The delivery sites include Full Belly Farm's 44 residential produce pick-up sites and three farmers' markets. The delivery containers withstand temperatures between 40 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit, handle exposure to summer sun and winter rain, and protect produce during shipping distances up to 150 miles. The program was funded with a $15,000 grant from StopWaste.Org.
Measurable improvements include:
- Cost savings of $14,161 per year in avoided waxed cardboard box purchases; a savings of 8% of total box costs. The savings will continue every year as long as the boxes last.
- Reduced labor to set up and stack cardboard boxes and line them with paper linings each day. Adding the paper lining required an additional person on the box filling line - a considerable cost for a small company.
- Avoided 6.54 tons of cardboard waste per year, resulting in an annual reduction of34.1 tons of greenhouse gas emission.
Svenska Retursystem also took home an award for its program to establish a common pooling system for more than 200 food producers in Sweden and food manufacturers throughout Europe that export their goods to the Swedish trade. Every product for every grocery chain is delivered in the same standardized size and type of returnable crate and pallet. Since the program's inception in 2001, nearly 1 billion crates have been delivered, replacing the same number of single use packaging. By offering the whole industry the same terms and cost of packaging, the program has neutralized packaging as a competitive factor and freed up the food producers to focus more on their core business.
The companies will provide details of their award-winning implementations at the RPA's Reusables Learning Center at Pack Expo in Chicago.