Davis Worldwide and Halo testing UK program

DeltaTrak pioneering program to reuse or recycle data loggers in US and EU

Every month the fresh produce industry uses millions of data loggers, a tiny bit of electronic equipment which stores vital information for growers, exporters, importers and packers. These small devices are mostly single use and thrown in the bin as soon as the data has been downloaded. A typica data logger can cost between $10 and $100 and in most cases are not ‘properly’ disposed of potentially causing harm to the environment due to the lithium batteries they contain.

What if these devices could be collected and either recycled or reused?

US company DeltaTrak is pioneering programs in the US and in Europe to do just that. At the recent Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin DeltaTrak met with Davis Worldwide and Halo to discuss the progress which is already being made on this project in Europe and the UK.

Eric Hugo from DeltaTrak who is responsible for innovation, said that DeltaTrak take the whole issue of environmental degradation very seriously and products such as data loggers need to be recycled.

“We started the Go Green program where we support our customers in returning the devices to us. Last year at Fruit Logistica, one of our representatives met with Mark Wright (Senior Commercial Manager) from Davis Worldwide and said that we wanted to start collecting the devices. Mark was very positive about this and actually moved much faster that we did. We are in discussions with Mark and have a third-party logistics company Mango, picking up our devices at one test site which Davis is managing for us. They return the devices to us and we refurbish/ recycle or discard the devices. We are taking ownership of them whereas before everything got thrown away. We are very proactive about this and are really pushing it now and make an active effort to be able to be environmentally friendly company. This project is still in it’s infancy, we are testing where, when and how much we can do.”

Good for the environment, good business
Fred Wu, CEO DeltaTrack said that they have already started to do this in the US with the retailers, as a lot of these devices end up in the DCs. “We have made an agreement to go and collect them. These devices use lithium batteries which are hazardous to the environment and plus it costs the retailers money to have a company come and collect them, so we are saving them money while making sure the environment is protected. There is also a value in these used products, so we can donate these funds to a charity. It is a cooperation program that we are putting together. It’s good for the environment but it is also good for business as we are able to able to recycle and most of the companies involved have sustainability programs and I hope that at some point we will be able to convert this into carbon footprints and carbon credits. It is a starting point and we are also trying to establish this here in Europe.”

According to Eric being able to gain carbon credits from returning the data loggers is very close. DeltaTrak are tracking this to establish carbon benefits which they may get from Governments, these will then be funnelled back to the customer.

A recycling bin in every location in the UK
“The key point is sustainability, and within the fresh produce industry we do a lot to attain high levels whether it is in plastic reduction or looking after the growers to help make packhouses more sustainable,” comments Mark Wright from import/ export company Davis Worldwide. “But as an industry, I don’t think we do enough. This project generated an idea I had: How easy would it be to put a recycling bin in every location in the UK? For example, at packers and importers. Eventually we can roll this out to other industries too. At Davis we do a lot of deep sea from Chile and South Africa and road freight from Greece using these devices, and there is an opportunity to reformat them and reuse them.

There an element of monetary value in them too. We are not in this to make a profit, but how can we make a difference? My family has been affected by children’s cancer and Cambridge Addenbrookes Hospital who cared for the child had certain amenities on site which are purely charity funded and donations. The halfway house for example, allowing parents somewhere to stay close to their child at the last moment when the worst news is delivered; to the children’s recreational areas for those who spend weeks / month on end on the ward. Or even a cash pot allowing parents to pool from for meals at the Hospital when staying with their children, as most parents are forced to take a sudden leave of absence from their jobs which can affect them financially.

A project like this could do a lot to help to support them in providing the outstanding care they already give to patients and families. Having been through the hardships here I have seen first hand the areas that would benefit to support of this kind, speaking separately to Joe Sagoe from ACT (Addenbrookes Charity Trust) welcomes the support graciously and had also invited us after to participate in a larger project in the future which will benefit the rest of the East of England.”

Millions used each year
Halo which offers packing and service provision at London Gateway Port have agreed to have the first bin put into the site. Wayne Milne (Business Unit Director) from Halo said:

“We can really do something with these devices, every time I go into a QC room there are boxes of them which we just throw away. If we can return them to be reused or properly recycled while at the same time giving some money to charity that is great. The scale of this could be huge just at Halo we have around 50 data loggers a day, if all companies did this it would make a big difference.

“At the moment only 60% of these loggers get collected - the ones where we have to download the information manually, but the QC information from the rest is downloaded automatically and we just leave the data loggers on the pallet and when the pallet comes to the end of the line the guy tales the logger off and puts it in the normal bin, we have to educate our staff to remove these and put them in the recycle bin. This is a very small device and people don’t really think much about them but we use millions of these things each year, so being able to recycle or reuse them will make a big difference.”

Mark Wright, Fred Wu, Wayne Milne, Steve Stringer and Eric Hugo

Steve Stringer, CFO at Delta Track said that with collaboration there could be a great benefit to society as a whole. “We are looking for people like ourselves who are willing to make the investment and give time to do this.”

Logistics company Mango will provide and deliver the bins and return the loggers to DeltaTrak who have a facility in Belgium, here they will be checked to see if they can be reused or recycled.

“For DeltaTrak this is very much business development and we are using Davis and Halo to help us test this out because we want this project to grow. We need to know which areas work and which don’t, also feedback from Mango is important,” continues Steve. “This is not a business proposition but a sustainability project, to capture what was already sold to make it more beneficial for the community or the participant. In addition to winning the environmental race you are also reducing the number of resources used to continually make new devices as well as reducing waste.”

Ahead of the curve
“We are a bit ahead of the curve here, I think that in the US, EU and in China there will be regulation coming in within to next 2-5 years for this. We are putting things in place because it is beneficial for the environment,” concludes Eric.

For more information:
Mark Wright
Davis Worldwide
Tel: +44 1205 726181

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