4 Years Later: Recyclable Boxes Still Saving Money & Reducing Emissions

Watch the YouTube clip here. In 2010, Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) worked to pilot and document the use of recyclable corrugated boxes made by CoRR member Interstate Container and used by Mountaire Farms, a poultry producer that operates the largest poultry processing facility in North America. The process led to the conversion of the facility to 100% recyclable corrugated packaging in 2010, which helped inspire others to follow suit in subsequent years. Since 2010, Mountaire Farms has also converted their other two processing facilities over to recyclable corrugated containers.

Fast forward to 2013 – the Corrugated Packaging Association released a study showing that there has been a 600% increase in the annual use of recyclable coated shipping packaging for poultry, produce, seafood, and other applications. Global Green USA took a look at how much of this change is due to the collaboration between Mountaire Farms and Interstate Container.

We caught up with Larry Saywell, VP of Marketing at Mountaire Farms, who helped orchestrate the company’s switch to recyclable packaging that features the water-resistant, recycling-compatible natural coating called Greencoat® that replaced petroleum-based wax. “There have been nothing but benefits associated with this change.  We have been able to down-size the size of the shipping containers and improve our shipping payloads, all while reducing our energy and water usage in the plants,” Saywell explained. “And the improved packaging is now allowing our domestic and international customers to reduce their costs and carbon pollution by recycling these boxes, rather than absorbing the additional expense of sending them to the landfills.”

Pete Bugas, General Manager at Interstate Container, converted their annual usage of 35 million recyclable boxes to square feet to compare the numbers to the analysis by the Corrugated Packaging Association. “Mountaire uses about 500 million square feet of recyclable corrugated board every year – all of which used to be wax-coated and unrecyclable,” he said. “Switching that 500 million square feet to recyclable coated packaging for Mountaire alone accounts for a full 8.3% of the increase that the Corrugated Packaging Association documented.”

Global Green USA then converted these numbers to carbon savings, and found that if all 500 million square feet of Mountaire Farms’ boxes are recycled with regular corrugated cardboard, emissions are reduced by approximately 150,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year. Overall, since 2010, that means Mountaire Farms has singlehandedly created an environmental benefit equivalent to planting 15 million trees.

We hope this amazing achievement will inspire other food producers and distributors to likewise switch to 100% recyclable packaging for shipping meats and produce to grocery stores and restaurants. As proven by Mountaire Farms and Interstate Container, this switch makes sense for business - and for the environment.

Learn more about Global Green USA's Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) here.

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