Driven by the desire to diversify its solutions, Ecoplastica has developed a new crate made of fully-recycled material which will be available as of this week.
"The objective was to make the packaging of Italian productions appealing and visible. We believe the current plastic crate formula is obsolete and excessively widespread all over the world, especially in Europe. This image makes us part of the mass, which is not what we want for our packaging and our clients. The Italian produce must be promoted better and simple black polypropylene crates no longer perform this function. We asked ourselves which was the best way to make Italian products stand out on markets where produce from different origins is available," explains Domenico Monteleone, general manager at Ecoplastica.
The new solutions can be fully customized on all visible surfaces. "As it is made of 100% regenerated propylene, it is suitable for both dry and fresh produce. Customization is obtained with the IML (In Mould Labelling) technology using a water-based ink which can be regenerated and recycled."
The first of a long series
This new crate is the first of a long series of solutions that Ecoplastica is looking to develop in the short-term. Two formats are currently available: 30x50 with a height of 12 cm but which will be available with a height of up to 17.5 cm, fully customizable; and 30x40 with a variable height between 12 and 17.5 cm - a smaller version for early produce as well as citrus fruits and other popular products.
"These crates are suitable for a wide variety of products. The specific format we are launching was developed mainly for fennel, which is mostly grown in Campania and central-southern Italy and which is exported a lot."
Tests were carried out before the crate was presented officially. "The pilot crate underwent a few modifications thanks to the feedback from our clients. The initial prototype was modified to feature self-supporting structures that have made the exterior smooth."
"For the first time, we 3D-printed the prototype so as to have an idea of its shape. The object was entirely similar to our solution, but it was extremely fragile."
The general manager also stresses that those working with early produce or products with a high added value usually use crates of different colors. "In order to obtain solutions with different colors, it is necessary to use raw materials subject to the plastic material tax envisaged for 2021. However, a product that looks the same, with a label that makes it stand out, enables us to obtain a fully-regenerated solution and therefore avoid paying the tax on virgin packaging materials." This is an advantage for both the company and the customers.
"Luckily, we have not stopped working despite the pandemic, although this does not mean we are not at risk everyday despite implementing all the measures needed and performing tests every 10 days. The full lockdown between March and May 2020 favored our production since we registered a slight drop followed by a more stable trend. We are now on the same level as last year. Considering the crisis caused by Covid-19, we could say 2020 was overall stable."