American Recycler News, Inc.


Global Green USA to develop and pilot recyclable produce boxes

Recyclable produce box trials commenced in honor of Earth Day at New Leaf Community Market’s flagship store in Santa Cruz, California. The event took place in the heart of a major farming region for leafy greens, which are commonly packed in unrecyclable boxes. The produce was provided by local farm Lakeside Organic Gardens, and the latest in commercially available Fibre Box Association certified recyclable boxes were supplied by members of Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR), Green Bay Packaging and Interstate Container.

Greens, vegetables, seafood and meats are often transported in paraffin-coated cardboard, generating 1.45 million tons of solid waste that must be landfilled or burned. If designed for recycling and recycled, retailers and restaurants could realize a net benefit of combined cost savings and revenue generation of $200 million nationwide. CoRR has worked since 2008 to accelerate the industry adoption of recyclable alternative coated packaging and recycling it, which could reduce America’s annual carbon emissions by 4.5 million mtCO2e, equivalent to eliminating an entire coal-fired power plant.

The recyclable boxes were packed with iceberg lettuce, celery hearts and broccoli at Lakeside Organic Gardens’ Watsonville facility. The produce was cooled using a vacuum process, placed in humid storage, and delivered by truck to New Leaf. There, the boxes were inspected and unpacked, and some of the produce was used to make a fresh salad. As part of this pilot, a more intensive hydro-vacuum cooling process, commonly used to cool produce, was tested on Interstate Container’s boxes for the first time with promising results.

Green Bay Packaging and Interstate Container are two of several major manufacturers of recyclable boxes for a variety of wet applications. “Grocers are increasingly aware of the savings from receiving recyclable boxes that can be put into the corrugated stream instead of trashed,” said Paul Martin, vice president and general manager at Green Bay Packaging. Jeff Cormier, national sales and marketing manager at Interstate Container, echoed these sentiments. “We want to give farmers a cost-neutral, recyclable box that lets them bring added value to retailers,” he said. “Most importantly, the boxes must have the strength needed to protect the produce.”

New Leaf Community Market, a local chain of grocery stores with seven locations in the Central Coast region, hosted the event at their flagship store. “We are very excited to help move this effort forward,” said Matt Landi, produce manager. “Recyclable boxes have the potential to help us save money on trash fees, and they’re better for the environment than non-recyclable, wax-coated boxes.”

City representatives including Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane and Lowell Hurst, Council Member and former Mayor of Watsonville, attended the event.

According to Annie White of Global Green USA and director of CoRR, “Global Green has had great success in working with leaders in the poultry industry to transition to recyclable boxes. This demonstration is our first step toward developing solutions for the produce industry.”