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Florida schools get lighter-weight milk-case solution

The tray is said to weigh 35% less than a plastic crate and takes up 28% less refrigerator space than a plastic crate for the equivalent amount of servings.

A new standard in recyclable and sustainable milk carton packaging and efficient transportation is now being offered to 17 Florida school districts through a partnership between M&B Products Inc. and International Paper.

M&B is a provider of milk and various juice products to Florida County Schools. In August 2009, M&B owner Dale McClellan presented a challenge to Barry O’Brien of International Paper: to reduce the net weight of the 70-count corrugated case of milk MandB.jpgcartons in half. The goals were to not increase the unit price and to maintain the same length and width dimensions as the current corrugated package.

International Paper produced a 35-count hybrid tray, which met McClellan’s challenge. The new package is made from recyclable and renewable paper-based material. Benefits of the new tray include recycling income for the school districts, reduced fossil fuel use, a smaller carbon footprint, and improved ergonomics by reducing the weight of the case by half, note M&B and International Paper.

The tray is said to weigh 35% less than a plastic crate and takes up 28% less refrigerator space than a plastic crate for the equivalent amount of servings. Ergonomically, the lighter trays are easier to load into the school coolers, offer effortless dispensing of the product, and are simple for the children to use.

"We use a few more of the new trays than plastic crates but the trays are much easier to use, much lighter in weight, and much, much cleaner and more sanitary than plastic crates,” says Dr. Beverly Girard, director, Food and Nutrition Services, Sarasota County. “Our employees keep up with student demand, and they like the fact that we can throw the trays into our recycle bins instead of having them stack up by the back door. Also, the corrugated trays have an insulating effect, which helps hold the temperature. Because the cartons are not rubbing against hard plastic cases, the incidence of 'leakers' has essentially gone away.”

States McClellan, “The new tray improves space utilization in our facility and customers’ refrigerators. We also use fewer trucks to deliver our products. Each tray is new and clean, and their performance outshines the plastic crates. Also, we don’t have to worry about managing the plastic crate return program logistics, shipping, and upfront and ongoing costs

“The school districts using the new trays really like them. Recycling plays a big role at the dairy, and the fact that the paper in the lightweight tray is renewable and recyclable is great. It is a truly a win-win-win for us, our customers, and the environment.”

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