Artfully ‘Green’ Packages for Fresh Greens

Designed to protect each product as well as the environment, the new packaging adopted by Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods Inc. is almost as “green” as the products themselves, as the company claims. Deep in the lush Salinas Valley of Salinas in California, the produce giant maintains that its living lettuce is “so beautiful, that it comes with a bodyguard,” according to its ad slogans. That strong-arm is a new, custom-designed scalloped clamshell for Artisan Lettuce in four- and six-count quantities, which promotes freshness and a longer shelf life.

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The new clamshell for Artisan Lettuce hold a selection of fully mature, petite head lettuces. The packaging has been customized to not only protect each lettuce head by cradling it in separate “scallops,” but to also showcase the product’s freshness and quality for a visually appealing appearance and unique look, whether it’s in the fridge or on a store shelf. This innovative package uses as much as 12 percent less material than a typical square clamshell, making it a more environmentally-responsible product.

Thermoformed by a proprietary source, the clear, custom-made clamshells feature transparent pressure-sensitive film labels printed with graphics and product copy in eye-catching leaf colours, textures and varieties.
Although the company declines to specify packaging materials or suppliers, it is probably a clamshell made from virgin PET, not even RPET, let alone PCR RPET, as the company only claims a 12% material reduction in comparison with square clamshells. That’s a pity really as there are many a perfect example of food-approved RPET packages. I suppose the company’s claim of ‘a packaging as green as the product itself’ is only a sales-slogan. A missed chance for such a beautiful design with its unique scallops!

How completely different is the new packaging from Earthbound Farm. As Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods Inc, a fresh-cut salad industry, which decided to switch to 100% PCR PET. All plastic clamshell packages of America’s largest grower of organic produce are now being made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PCR PET). Earthbound Farm is sourcing its PCR PET clamshells from Packaging Plus LLC.

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Virgin PET is made primarily from non-renewable fossil resources, whereas PCR PET is made from previously used plastic products such as soda or water bottles that would otherwise end up in landfills. PCR PET materials use significantly less energy and water to produce than virgin plastic and result in lower greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste, according to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

Based on Earthbound Farm’s annual usage of rigid PET plastic in 2008, the company’s conversion to 100 percent PCR PET for clamshell packaging will conserve 424,000 million BTUs and 68,307 gallons of water, as well as eliminate 16,191 tons of carbon dioxide and divert 1.3 million pounds of solid waste from landfills.

While PET is the most recycled plastic, recycling statistics demonstrate how much better Americans could be doing with recycling their valuable wastes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there was nearly six billion pounds of PET packaging waste generated in 2007 (the most recent year for these stats), and only 23% was recycled into new products, leaving over 4.5 billion pounds of PET to languish in landfills.

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For Earthbound Farm organic farming has really positive effects. More ecological packaging is an important next step.

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4 responses to “Artfully ‘Green’ Packages for Fresh Greens

  1. Pingback: Excellence in Packaging » Blog Archive » The Quad-Bag-In-Box·

  2. Pingback: Excellence in Packaging » Blog Archive » Pick and Place Technology for Fragile Fresh Fruit·

  3. Hi Anton,

    I’ve been trying to find a PET clamshell solution and was excited to see the Earthbound was using Packaging Plus, LLC. But when I went to their website it says they’ve ceased all operations. Are there any other companies offering what they offered or are they (Packaging Plus, LLC) operating under a different name now?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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