Working to Reduce Plastics
Plastic can play an important role in protecting fresh produce in transit, elongating shelf-life, reducing food waste and preserving hygiene. What is equally clear, however, is that unnecessary use of long-life plastics by industry is having a profoundly detrimental impact on our environment. In Total Produce, we are committed to minimising the use of plastic packaging on our products, without compromising product integrity and to substituting conventional plastic packaging with sustainable alternatives wherever possible.
Working with Stakeholders
Our Starting Point
Total Produce’s policy with respect to long life plastic is to remove, reduce, reuse, recycle or replace such packaging wherever it is possible to do so. Across our operations, initiatives have been put in place to review our use of plastics and take remedial action as appropriate.
In May 2019, Total Produce commissioned detailed consumer research to explore consumer perceptions of plastic packaging on fresh produce. The results were clear. Fresh produce is a category in which the use of plastic is particularly emotive, change is required in the short term and consumer appetite for sustainably packed fresh produce is strong.
Working With Other Stakeholders ( see diagram above )
Given the complexity of waste management across multiple markets, and conscious that we in Total Produce cannot effect change alone, we are constructively engaging with other stakeholders including packaging manufacturers, retailers, waste management companies and Government bodies to come to a collective solution to what is a pressing issue.
Introducing Total Produce Compostable Packaging
The development of our Total Produce Compostable range in 2019 was an important milestone in our work to reduce plastics. The culmination of 18 months research, testing and trialling, the range provides a sustainable packaging solution for the consumer in the here and now without compromising on convenience, food safety or shelf-life. Available in a variety of brands, including the iconic Dole brand, the range has been developed to be consumer orientated, environmentally responsible, practical from a waste disposal perspective and realistically priced.
A ‘one stop shop’ solution for consumers, all elements of our packs, from the flexible film, to the trays and even the ink used to print the labelling is compostable. No sorting is required in the home, beyond disposal in the food waste bin. Our packaging, when composted, biodegrades substantially within 3 months and completely within a 6 month period.
Reassuring The Consumer
The Total Produce Compostable range is accredited to the highest international standards and, importantly, where possible tested in local markets for compatibility with the local waste management infrastructure. Our packs, for example, were the first fresh produce products to be accredited with the Cré mark awarded by the Irish Compost Association, denoting that the range is ‘Food Waste Bin’ compatible in Ireland. This offers the consumer the reassurance that these packs have not only been scientifically tested but trialled in real-life conditions by Irish waste management companies and found to decompose as promised.
Our ambition going forward
In the longer term, our goal remains the pursuit of a circular plastic economy where our packaging will be recycled and reused, and we continue to work towards that end. In the meantime, while the necessary infrastructure develops to accommodate this, we believe Compostable Packaging offers a viable alternative to conventional plastics in the short and medium-term. It allows us to empower consumers to make responsible decisions with our packaging right now – ensuring that long-life plastics do not continue to contaminate our ecosystem.
Across our international operations, we’re committed to leading the way in introducing more sustainable packaging. For example, OTC Organics in the Netherlands have introduced South African Organic Table Grape packs in innovative recyclable packaging and in North America Oppy’s sustainability initiatives have seen the introduction of new wholly compostable kiwi packs.