Last week, we took a camera crew into the field to test some new recyclable produce boxes to see if they can withstand the rigorous cooling processes used on farms in Vineland, New Jersey. Stay tuned for a video (like this one) with the footage collected last week.
We are working to replace the unrecyclable paraffin-coated boxes used to ship wet, cooled produce from farms to grocery stores across the country. The petroleum-derived paraffin makes the boxes unrecyclable -- and when they get mixed into the bales of regular cardboard, the whole bale has to be sent to the landfill or incinerated. The net greenhouse gas impact of this is equivalent to an entire coal-fired power plant.
The good news is there are recyclable alternatives available, as well as an established industry standard for what "recyclable" means for a produce box. Now the only question is: do the boxes work? Last time, we headed out to Santa Cruz, California to test the boxes using a vacuum-cooling process. After our success there, we decided to kick it up a notch. We headed to Vineland, New Jersey, which supplies much of the produce for the New York and Philadelphia regions, and tested new and improved boxes using more water intensive processes -- hydro-vac and hydro-cooling.
We tested boxes made by CoRR members Green Bay Packaging, Interstate Container, and Spectra-Kote at two farms, where the boxes were packed with dripping wet produce (peppers, eggplants, and collards), run under a hydro-cooler or through a hydro-vac process, and then stored for two days in a humid cooler. Our next step will be to track the boxes through the whole shipping chain, from the farm to the distributor to the grocery store, and find out if they can stand up to long distance shipping and cooling. Stay tuned!