Recyclable shipping-case initiative launched in NYC
Global Green USA (www.globalgreen.org) has announced the launch of an initiative with the Hunts Point Distribution Center in New York City, the world’s largest food DC, to substitute all of its nonrecyclable transfer packaging with recyclable packaging. If successful, the program is expected to divert 30,000 tons per year of corrugated from landfills, reduce greenhouse gases by 103,000mtCO2e (metric ton carbon dioxide equivalent) per year—which is equal to taking 19,000 cars off the road—and save businesses $3 million-plus per year. Global Green also hopes the initiative will set the standard for “greening” transfer packaging throughout the world.
As part of the program, Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CORR, www.globalgreen.org/climate/initiatives/corr/), along with participating businesses, will conduct recyclable box demonstrations at the Hunts Point DC to prove and document the performance, cost-savings, and environmental benefits of these boxes for a range of product, poultry, and seafood applications distributed throughout wholesale channels in New York City. Currently, Hunts Point uses 30,000 tons of waxed, nonrecyclable, corrugated boxes per year.
According to CORR director Annie White, it is estimated that with the Hunts Point switch to recyclable corrugated, New York City businesses may save $3 million to $6 million per year through reduced landfill fees and the sale of corrugated initially procured through Hunts Point. CORR notes that with scale and with the increased price of wax due to the closure of refining operations, the number of cost-competitive recyclable box options is increasing rapidly.
Interstate, Mountaire lead way with poultry packaging
The launch of the program also included an announcement by Global Green CORR Founder’s Circle member Interstate Container
(www.iripaper.com/ic.html) and its business partner, Mountaire, that they are conducting field trials on boxes used to ship poultry through wholesale channels. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Mountaire’s export business transitioned to recyclable boxes from Interstate. Boxes destined for export are exposed to moist conditions prior to the product entering freezers, requiring even greater performance than those shipped to domestic grocers. Interstate and Mountaire are the only companies to have made this transition, relates CORR.
Converting boxes for the domestic wholesale market will complete the transition and is the greatest challenge, CORR reports. Poultry destined for restaurants and bodegas is often packed in ice or shipped in close proximity to product that is ice-packed, and this moist environment creates the most trying conditions for poultry transfer packaging.
“Demonstrating that recyclable packaging meets the rigorous performance criteria of wholesale distribution channels is an important first step in the recyclable box transition,” says White. “Our next step is to coordinate trials for all packaging applications and food types, including meat, poultry, seafood, and produce to demonstrate these boxes can work in a range of applications.”
Initiative is the latest step in greening process
CORR notes that its Hunts Point initiative is just the most recent step in the process to eliminate wax boxes. In 2005 and 2006, grocers such as Albertsons and Walmart worked with their supply chains to eliminate wax-coated poultry boxes. These grocers quickly realized a cost savings due to the switch because they could now sell the old corrugated cardboard (OCC) rather than paying to have it hauled away with trash.
Initiatives have also been supported by the development of the Fibre Box Assn.’s (www.fibrebox.org) voluntary protocol and standard, which certifies that boxes with alternative coatings as recyclable within the existing OCC recycling stream. Since these early trials and the development of the recyclability certification, CORR relates, there has been a steady progression to test products under more trying conditions, such as those tested by Interstate and Mountaire.