Driscoll’s has partnered with Think Beyond Plastic to launch an inaugural Agricultural Plastics Innovation Challenge, which aims to stimulate new recycling processes and the development of alternatives to conventionally used field plastics. Innovators, entrepreneurs, research institutes, start-ups and institutions are encouraged to submit applications for innovative solutions, and winners will have the opportunity to pilot their innovations in a commercial environment. A dedicated Ag Plastics Innovation portal is available for submissions with a deadline of Nov. 30, 2021.
The use of plastic in berry production has proven to have significant benefits such as improved yield, reduced food loss and improved food safety. However environmental, community and economic impacts remain since recycling is not a viable option for plastics that have contact with the soil--a significant share of agricultural plastics.
Driscoll’s reached out to additional berry companies including Aneberries, California Giant, Gem Pak, Good Farms and Naturipe to join the innovation challenge. The Challenge is an opportunity for berry producers to identify early-stage innovations that effectively collect, recycle, compost or convert waste to energy. A panel of experts will select winners in each category.
“Driscoll’s is proud to be the corporate sponsor of The Agricultural Plastics Innovation Challenge, as it will support the entire industry in discovering scalable and economically viable solutions to improve the usage and recyclability of agricultural plastics,” said Scott Komar, senior vice-president of Global R&D, Driscoll’s.
The Challenge complements existing efforts by Driscoll’s and others in the berry industry to reduce the environmental impact of plastic clamshells. In early 2020, Driscoll’s and others across the fresh berry industry made a joint pledge to achieve 100 percent recycle-ready packaging by 2025.
“As an industry, we share a common goal to reduce the environmental impact of plastics,” said Joe Barsi, president of California Giant Berry Farms. “This challenges us to think beyond the clamshell and address hard to recycle plastic that is used in berry production. We owe it to our growing communities, growers and consumers to be leaders and help find solutions.”
For more about the challenge, click here.