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Northampton Growers makes switch to recyclable boxes

Global Green USA, in conjunction with a national grocer with over 1,300 location and members of its national Coalition for Resource Recovery, coordinated a pilot that led to the conversion of all cabbage packing at major produce supplier Northampton Growers to 100 percent recyclable packaging for cabbage.

As a result, the 125,000 boxes used during this upcoming cabbage season that would have been made of unrecyclable wax-coated corrugated cardboard will instead be packed in recyclable boxes, saving thousands of dollars for each location and reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to planting over 15,000 trees.LilyKellyInspectingBoxesLily Kelly, Global Green’s senior program associate and the project coordinator, inspecting boxes.

“If all unrecyclable corrugated packaging were replaced with recyclable alternatives, and recycled, the greenhouse gas emissions reduction would be equivalent to shutting down an entire coal-fired power plant with no energy loss, and grocers and restaurants across the country could save $200 million,” Lily Kelly, Global Green’s senior program associate and the project coordinator, said in a press release. “Northampton Growers and their grocer customer are setting the standard by making recyclable packaging a priority for produce, and we are proud to have helped them make this important change.”

“We are thrilled that this recyclable packaging is performing so well,” Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers, based in Cheriton, VA, added in the press release. “This switchover means that our customers will be receiving 75,000 recyclable cabbage boxes that they can bale and sell with the regular corrugated cardboard, which will save them thousands of dollars. We are glad that Global Green initiated this project, which is a key step toward helping all our customers reduce waste and save money.” 

The initial pilot project tracked recyclable, water-resistant Greencoat packaging made by CoRR member Interstate Container from its packing in Moultrie, GA, to its successful delivery to St. Louis, MO, a journey of over 750 miles. The boxes and their contents arrived intact, leading the grower to eventually ship all its cabbage in recyclable, water-resistant boxes.

The Greencoat boxes, which are provided by Interstate Container, are made from recycled material, and are recyclable in accordance with the Fibre Box Association’s recyclability and repulpability protocol for wax-alternative coatings.

“Many farms in the Southeast and elsewhere have already switched over to recyclable packaging, including our Greencoat boxes, but many more are still using unrecyclable wax-coated boxes to ship food from the farm to the grocery store,”  Jeff Cormier, national sales manager for Interstate Container, added in the press release. “We are delighted that Global Green created this opportunity to help grocers save money by bringing recyclable produce packaging to grocers across the country and one of their major suppliers, and show how strong and cost-effective these boxes can be.” 

Greens, vegetables, seafood and meats are often transported in paraffin-coated cardboard, generating 1.47 million tons of solid waste that must be sent to landfills or burned.

Old corrugated cardboard is the most widely recovered packaging material in the country (91 percent recovered, according to the EPA). If coated corrugated cardboard for produce were designed for recyclability, it could be collected and recovered in nearly every community in the United States.