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By Dr. Nadav Nitzan & Deborah Meidan

Reducing produce waste and carbon footprint with Xtend® packaging

The greatest environmental challenges that face the fresh produce industry are food wastage and carbon emission during transportation. According to the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide are thrown away annually. This represents 1 third of all the food that is produced. Interestingly, the vast majority of food is lost during the supply chain and then to a lesser extent during consumption. In order to mediate food wastage, fresh produce distributors often opt for air as opposed to sea freight which further compounds the environmental impact. The amount of carbon emissions per mile by air is over 30 times more than by sea freight according to the Carbon Fund and air freight is substantially more expensive.

The good news is that using Xtend® MA/MH freshness preserving packaging is an affordable solution that directly addresses these issues by significantly extending the shelf life of fresh produce often permitting sea freight, reducing wastage and increasing the amount and quality of fresh produce that arrive to market.




A study published by Wageningen University indicates that CO2 emissions are reduced by between 92-95% when transporting fresh produce via sea freight (Tables 2 - 4). Nevertheless, sea freight is attainable only when fresh produce is packed in StePac’s Xtend® MA/MH packaging, which preserves quality and freshness en-route. In the study, white asparagus is transported from Peru to Holland, green onion is transported from Egypt to the UK and cherries are transported from Chile to the UK by sea freight and all benefit greatly from using Xtend® MA/MH packaging as opposed to air freight.




Xtend® MA/MH packaging also proves beneficial for USA customers who transport broccoli by land. In combination with vacuum cooling, 33% more broccoli is packed in the same container space while reducing total gross weight by 30% in comparison with packing in ice (Fig. 1). The elimination of ice enables 28 instead of 20 pallets of 64 cartons to be loaded per truck due to weight reduction. By eliminating ice, waxed cartons, which are non-recyclable and expensive to dispose of, can be replaced by recyclable non-waxed carton. The innovative approach results in fewer shipments, saving up to 40% on logistic costs, cutting CO2  emissions from 359 Kg/t to 215 Kg/t, a 40% reduction in carbon print (Table 4). The benefits continue; the use of dry, iceless Xtend® MA/MH packaging for broccoli is also superior to packing with ice in reducing microbial load, hence adding to food safety.


Fig. 1. Broccoli packed in ice in waxed cartons before shipment (left) and broccoli packed in iceless Xtend® modified atmosphere packaging (right).

A survey which includes several customers who transport fresh produce commodities from South and Central America to Europe using Xtend® assesses its impact on the environment. The survey reveals reduction in wastage due to less spoilage and weight loss depending on the produce and supply chain. For instance french beans shipped from Central America to the USA showed a waste reduction of 6%, cantaloupe melons shipped from Central America to the USA and Europe showed waste reduction of 8% and white asparagus shipped from South America to Europe showed a waste reduction of 12%.



In addition to the benefits during the supply chain, Xtend® also offers exciting application at home to reduce waste. Although results vary depending on the produce item, as much as 100% extended shelf life can be achieved with Xtend® Home Use bags over non packed produce in your refrigerator.  So when correctly used, StePac’s Xtend® packaging will reduce wastage and enhance quality and freshness at all stages where waste occurs.

StePac L.A. Ltd develops and manufactures the MA/MH Xtend® packaging for a wide range of fruits and vegetables. The information presented herein indicates that the use of Xtend® plastic packaging positively impacts the environment, reducing carbon foot print and carbon emissions, and saving on food wastage.



Sources:
Westra, E.H. and Eppink, M.M. 2008. Positive impact of plastic packaging on CO2 emissions. Wageningen UR, Agrotechnology and Food Science Group. Aharoni, N., Rodov, V., Fallik, E., Porat, R., Pesis, E. and Lurie, S. 2008. Controlling humidity improves efficacy of modified atmosphere packaging of fruits and vegetables. Acta Hort. 804:121-128.

For more information:
Andy Swersky
Stepac
Tel: +972 (0)4 9872131 ext 114
Mob: +972 (0)52 6440771
www.stepac.com
 

Publication date: 9/10/2014


 


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