In most supermarkets conventional apples are sold unpacked, while organic apples are packed in small plastic trays covered with foil. But that is not what organic consumers want, says Eosta packing expert Paul Hendriks. Of course, the EU requires organic and non-organic products to be distinguishable, but that does not mean that organic must be packed .. and certainly not in plastic. Hendriks helps supermarkets find other, more sustainable options saving a staggering 2.5 million plastic trays per year.
"There are many studies showing that the organic consumer has a strong dislike for plastic packaging" says Paul Hendriks, packaging expert at Eosta. Hendriks, who has been working for the organic produce distributor for 13 years, continues: "Logically speaking, one would not expect the most sustainably grown product to be packed in unsustainable material, in fact logically speaking, the most sustainable packaging form is not to pack at all !”
Only pack when there is no other option
Hendriks is serious about this: "Every time you handle a piece of fruit, you are adding resources and energy and often you also increase the chance of decay. If you can offer am unpacked product, that's always the most sustainable option. The leading Swedish supermarket chain ICA has turned this important insight into a formal packing policy: only pack if there's no other way. More supermarkets should follow their example."
Moving away from oil based plastic
Unfortunately, the current reality of retail is that a lot of organic produce is still being packed. For those situations Paul Hendriks can provide new, more sustainable options. "We have been working since 2003 to get rid of oil based plastic. That journey has brought us from PLA (plastic derived from corn) and other bio-based plastics to sugarcane carton, compostable stickers with compostable glue, and new ways to offer produce unpacked."
Two new plastic free options: shakers and carry trays
Paul Hendriks has recently helped introduce two new innovative solutions. The first one is a shaker for snack vegetables made out of sustainable sugarcane waste material. The second innovation is a cardboard carry tray, that replaces flow packs (plastic tray with plastic foil). All kinds of products like tomato's, kiwi's, lemons and avocado's can be packed in this attractive carry tray.
1000s of kilograms of plastic saved each year
Earlier, Eosta introduced environmentally friendly trays made of the same sugarcane waste material saving thousands of kilograms of plastic per year. Paul Hendriks: "The carry trays, shakers and sugarcane trays together will save at least 2,5 million plastic trays per year. And we haven't even mentioned transport and hidden costs of plastic production yet. Packaging is a whole world in itself."