Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mountaire Farms Convert to Recyclable Compostable Poultry Boxes from Interstate Resources

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Source: Largest U.S. poultry plant converts to recyclable, compostable boxes (September 22, 2009)

Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CORR) has announced a key milestone in its goal of achieving 100% recyclable wholesale packaging through Hunt’s Point Distribution Center, the largest food distribution center in the world. Mountaire Farms, the sixth largest poultry company, and Interstate Container, in partnership with Global Green, have commenced the conversion of Mountaire’s New York City business and its Lumberbridge, NC, facility—the largest poultry processing plant in the U.S. - to Fibre Box Association -certified recyclable and compostable boxes supplied by Interstate Container.

This conversion will result in the transition of 6,000 tons of poultry boxes per year servicing the New York City market alone. If all of Mountaire’s boxes servicing the New York City market were recycled, greenhouses gases would be reduced by 21,000 mt CO2 e per year, equivalent to removing 3,800 passenger cars off the road.

Recyclable Corrugated Poultry Boxes from Interstate Container

In March 2009, Interstate and Mountaire announced its plans to conduct trials of recyclable modified atmosphere packaging through Hunt’s Point, the world’s largest food distribution center, as part of CORR’s initiative to achieve 100% recyclable wholesale transfer packaging through the facility.

Interstate and Mountaire conducted multiple trials on boxes shipped through Hunt’s Point. Trials began pallet-by-pallet through Hunt’s Point’s harsh conditions and progressed to the truckload. More recently, a two-week shipping test was conducted where Mountaire product shipped solely in the FBA-certified recyclable boxes. With these results, Mountaire has announced its plan to not only convert its existing MAP packaging to recyclable boxes, but also to convert its ice-pack product to MAP packaging to allow for a full transition of its entire product line to recyclable boxes.

Full conversion at Mountaire’s Lumberbridge facility is expected to be completed during 2010. Packaging at Mountaire’s other facilities is expected to be converted to the recyclable boxes by the end of the 2010 calendar year.

The switch to FBA-certified recyclable packaging is only one component of the sustainable packaging transition. The switch in packaging methods from ice pack to MAP packaging will result in significant water and energy savings. The box size was reduced, and an inner plastic bag was eliminated, also reducing the use of corrugated and plastic. Overall water, energy, and greenhouse gas savings associated with the design and packaging of the poultry is being calculated. The package also passed the ISO 16929 protocol for plastic disintegration in a pilot-scale composting facility.

According to Pete Bugas, national account manager, Interstate Container, “This a major step to permanently remove wax boxes not only from Hunts Point, but also throughout the supply chain in the United States. This box now provides the end user with a recycling option; it also is certified compostable, which is yet another avenue to prevent boxes from being landfilled.”

According to Annie White, director of Global Green’s CORR, “Achieving 100% recyclable packaging through Hunt’s Point would divert over 30,000 tons per year of corrugated from the landfill and would reduce greenhouse gases by 103,000mtCO2e per year, equivalent to taking 19,000 cars off the road, and it would set the standard for greening transfer packaging throughout the world.”According to Larry Saywell, vp marketing, Mountaire Farms, “Because we’re an agricultural company, we have an obligation to take care of the earth. In order to sustain our business, we need to have good soil, clean water, and clean air to grow our crops and raise our chickens. It is all part of our way of being.”

The Hunt’s Point Demonstration Project is one of several of Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery projects dedicated to generating business value through creating a sustainable, zero waste New York City. Among one of its recent projects is its work with seven New York Starbucks stores to launch a cup-recyling program.

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  1. Hello, Thank you for posting this informative article on the web. I found it because I am a transporter of these very boxes and I am very concerned with some of the problems not mentioned here or not yet fully realized. Although, more than just airing my grievance about them (the boxes), I also think I know how to solve the issue I have.

    The problem- these boxes do not hold well to each other causing them to slide around during transport. Certain regions of shipping require routes which are more mountainous or rough traveling that cause so much shifting of boxes as to routinely end up with full pallets of fresh product turned over on the floor. This fact is being dealt with by shrink wrapping the pallets twice or even three times as much as normal to prevent this shifting problem. Now, giant air bags are being used to fill in the space between the last two pallets which only protects what it touches still leaving the rest of the load at peril.

    Customers are being affected over and over again by this problem and it doesn't seem to be getting better. I like the environmental goal behind these boxes but, they are simply too slippery.

    My suggestion -my first thought was if the bottom and sides of these boxes could be dabbed or striped with a soft adhesive or dry epoxy, maybe it would provide for more grabbing of each other; thus ending the need for more plastic wrap and or airbags. However, I see that is in conflict with the goal of why these boxes are being used. Although so is more plastic wrap and air bags. I think what is needed is a redesigning of the boxes in such a way that they could be "notched out" or grooved somehow in the box lid with protruding "feet" or tongued on the undersides to enable an inter-locking effect with each other. I'm sure that within the folding manner of how these boxes are produced, somehow this can be achieved.

    Thanks again for posting this. I will show it to others I know who are also concerned about this.

  2. Thanks for your message. Wax coatings have a tackifying resin, that our new GreenCoat recyclable boxes do not. We are working on a couple of solutions to try and resolve the resulting slipperiness for our customers:

    A “pop & lock” type of adhesive that we can put on the covers to prevent sliding. Trials are being arranged for late April. The key will be the customer making sure they lock the lids into the body so that it doesn’t pull the lid off. (As a part of this, too, we are reviewing a 1-piece box to eliminate the lid issue when it comes this pop and lock).

    A new “glue dot” product

    The addition of anti-skid as part of our coating formula and post-coating without risking the recyclability of the box. This will take some time, however….but is in process.

    We appreciate your comments and are using considerable resources to resolve the issue.

    Interstate Container Cambridge
    903 Woods Road
    Cambridge, MD 21613

    Tel: 410-221-7777