“It ticks every environmental box you can think of, and represents an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic designs” Shaun Herdsman, Modiform’s divisional manager for EcoExpert.
“Retailers are definitely looking for more environmentally-friendly packaging. A lot are looking to switch from plastic or polystyrene to pulp packaging for fruits and vegetables. Some are even saying they don’t want to use any plastic in packaging at all in their stores.”
Modiform already have many closed loop recycling systems for their plastic product range in Ornamental Horticulture, which are all made from recycled materials taken from society. These recycling systems work well with many retailers, growers and other elements of the horticultural supply chain. However, when Modiform wanted to expand into the Produce Sector, they felt a movement towards packaging systems that could be recycled practically and easily by retailers and consumers. With plastic being a hot topic currently, consumers have been given a lot of information with regards to packaging, some of which is true and some of it is lacking in good packaging knowledge. This recent media attention has led governments and retailers in many different European countries to consider and commit to alternatives to plastic.
Modiform tried many different types of plastic for their products. They even tried PLA, a plant based polymer, but quickly realised, along with most of the food industry, that to use this material was just like putting a sticking plaster over a serious injury. Shaun Herdsman, EcoExpert Division Leader “The material could easily be used to create products, but after testing with recyclers and industrial compost companies, we found out that it didn’t degrade properly and made a mess of the plastic recycling system”. Modiform opted for products made from moulded paper pulp.
Jeroen Ravensbergen, CEO of Modiform “straight away we saw the potential for this material in Produce packaging. We set up the EcoExpert brand and opened our third division within Modiform to bring an additional product range to market”.
As well as being very environmentally friendly compared with plastics, Eco-Expert packaging offers a number of other advantages. “Compared with some other products being used currently, this range is stackable, so you can get quite a lot on a pallet and ship a larger quantity per delivery, which is cheaper for the supplier.”
Suitable for any fruit or vegetable, the Eco-Expert line features around 50 different tray models; ranging from a twin tray for apples or a triple pear holder, up to a tray with eight cavities.
The trays may have a hidden advantage for mushrooms in particular. Trials with a pulp punnet for mushroom have been shown to the shelf-life by a couple of days because the pulp mulches away the moisture from the mushrooms”.
Thanks to their eco-friendly credentials, Eco-Expert trays naturally lend themselves to packaging organically produced fruits and vegetables as well.
“Quite a lot of fruits and vegetables are organically-produced, and growers spend so much time and effort to ensure production is organic and environmentally-friendly, only to pack and supply the product in standard packaging”. “With the Eco-Expert range, organic growers can both produce and supply in an environmentally-friendly manner.”
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