The launch of the program included an announcement by Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery member Interstate Container and poultry processor Mountaire Farms will conduct field trials on boxes used to ship poultry through wholesale channels.
This is just the most recent step in the process to eliminate wax boxes, according to the announcement. In 2005 and 2006, grocers such as Albertsons and Wal-Mart worked with their supply chain to eliminate wax-coated poultry boxes. These retailers quickly realized a cost savings because they could now sell the old corrugated cardboard (OCC) rather than paying to have it hauled away with trash. Initiatives also have been supported by the development of the Fibre Box Association’s voluntary protocol and standard, which certifies boxes with alternative coatings as recyclable within the existing OCC recycling stream.
Since these early trials and development of the recyclability certification, there has been a steady progression to test products under more trying conditions – an environment with more moisture. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Mountaire’s export business transitioned to recyclable boxes manufactured by Interstate Container. Boxes destined for export are exposed to moist conditions prior to the product entering freezers, requiring even greater performance than those shipped to domestic grocers, the companies claim. Converting boxes for the domestic wholesale market would complete the transition and is the greatest challenge.
Poultry destined for restaurants and bodegas often is ice-packed or shipped in close proximity to product that is, and this moist environment creates the most trying conditions for poultry transfer packaging.
According to Annie White, director of Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery, “Demonstrating that recyclable packaging meets the rigorous performance criteria of wholesale distribution channels is an important first step in the recyclable box transition. Our next step is to coordinate trials for all packaging applications and food types including meat, poultry, seafood and produce to demonstrate these boxes can work in a range of applications.”