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Box made of tomato stem fibers goes on the market

The tomato box is on the eve of its release. The Greenery is offering a cardboard package, made of stem fibers to various retailers. On the first run of the bio-based box, 175,000 boxes were made. Duivestijn tomatoes will be packaged in these boxes.

"Buyers can use the fact that this box is bio-based as a marketing tool. Retailers that consider sustainability important are interested in this box, not only for the box itself but also for what will be in the box: Duivestijn tomatoes, a leader in the field of sustainability, will be packing their tomatoes in these boxes. The Greenery is currently in discussion with retailers. Buyers want to have some guarantees of course. Is the packing actually sustainable? We are now in the development phase, and we consider the boxes of high quality and to be very durable. In due course, we must establish benchmarks, such as the CO²-footprint, which can be tested," says Jan Smits who is the project manager of the Kenniscentrum Plantenstoffen (Knowledge center Plant Substance).

Meanwhile, we are already looking to begin a second production run. The premise is that the stem material would be processed into pulp for as much of the year as possible. Normally, the residual material is available in peaks, especially in the fall, when the greenhouses are cleaned out. "At the end of last year we had tomato fibers ensiled in order to examine whether the quality of the stem fiber was retained. The ensiled fibers were taken out in August and chopped, and then processed into pulp. From this pulp, 200,000 cardboard boxes can now be made," says Smits.

Initial reactions to the sustainable packaging have been positive. The box has yet to prove itself, but from the tests it appears that the quality of the box is definitely as good as conventional packaging. This bio-based box may actually be a bit stronger. Producing this cardboard is a bit more expensive when compared to current the packaging. In order to really get this business model around, the extra materials must also be used for other applications; this could include proteins and sugars, among other things. Proteins are useful for the animal feed industry and sugars serve as a raw material industrial applications.

Source: Kenniscentrum Plantenstoffen

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