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Largest U.S. poultry plant converts to recyclable, compostable boxes

Mountaire.jpgGlobal Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CORR) has announced a key milestone in its goal of achieving 100% recyclable wholesale packaging through Hunt’s Point Distribution Center, the largest food distribution center in the world. Mountaire Farms, the sixth largest poultry company, and Interstate Container, in partnership with Global Green, have commenced the conversion of Mountaire’s New York City business and its Lumberbridge, NC, facility—the largest poultry processing plant in the U.S.—to Fibre Box Association-certified recyclable and compostable boxes supplied by Interstate Container. This conversion will result in the transition of 6,000 tons of poultry boxes per year servicing the New York City market alone. If all of Mountaire’s boxes servicing the New York City market were recycled, greenhouses gases would be reduced by 21,000 mtCO2e per year, equivalent to removing 3,800 passenger cars off the road.

In March 2009, Interstate and Mountaire announced its plans to conduct trials of recyclable modified atmosphere packaging through Hunt’s Point, the world’s largest food distribution center, as part of CORR’s initiative to achieve 100% recyclable wholesale transfer packaging through the facility.

Interstate and Mountaire conducted multiple trials on boxes shipped through Hunt’s Point. Trials began pallet-by-pallet through Hunt’s Point’s harsh conditions and progressed to the truckload. More recently, a two-week shipping test was conducted where Mountaire product shipped solely in the FBA-certified recyclable boxes. With these results, Mountaire has announced its plan to not only convert its existing MAP packaging to recyclable boxes, but also to convert its ice-pack product to MAP packaging to allow for a full transition of its entire product line to recyclable boxes.

Full conversion at Mountaire’s Lumberbridge facility is expected to be completed during 2010. Packaging at Mountaire’s other facilities is expected to be converted to the recyclable boxes by the end of the 2010 calendar year.

The switch to FBA-certified recyclable packaging is only one component of the sustainable packaging transition. The switch in packaging methods from ice pack to MAP packaging will result in significant water and energy savings. The box size was reduced, and an inner plastic bag was eliminated, also reducing the use of corrugated and plastic. Overall water, energy, and greenhouse gas savings associated with the design and packaging of the poultry is being calculated. The package also passed the ISO 16929 protocol for plastic disintegration in a pilot-scale composting facility.

According to Pete Bugas, national account manager, Interstate Container, “This a major step to permanently remove wax boxes not only from Hunts Point, but also throughout the supply chain in the United States. This box now provides the end user with a recycling option; it also is certified compostable, which is yet another avenue to prevent boxes from being landfilled.”

According to Annie White, director of Global Green’s CORR, “Achieving 100% recyclable packaging through Hunt’s Point would divert over 30,000 tons per year of corrugated from the landfill and would reduce greenhouse gases by 103,000mtCO2e per year, equivalent to taking 19,000 cars off the road, and it would set the standard for greening transfer packaging throughout the world.”

According to Larry Saywell, vp marketing, Mountaire Farms, “Because we’re an agricultural company, we have an obligation to take care of the earth. In order to sustain our business, we need to have good soil, clean water, and clean air to grow our crops and raise our chickens. It is all part of our way of being.”

The Hunt’s Point Demonstration Project is one of several of Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery projects dedicated to generating business value through creating a sustainable, zero waste New York City. Among one of its recent projects is its work with seven New York Starbucks stores to launch a cup-recyling program.

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