Largest Distribution Center to Move to Recyclable Packaging

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Consumers are often only concerned with recycling the goods they have on hand, like cereal boxes, milk jugs and plastic bottles. But what about the packaging in which these products were shipped to reach the store where you bought them? Due to demands on the strength of these boxes, such as moisture or extreme cold, they are often not recyclable because additional coatings must be applied to the cardboard.

Hunts Point supplies food to almost 30 million people in N.Y.

Hunts Point supplies food to almost 30 million people in N.Y. Photo: Huntspoint.com

In response to this problem, Global Green USA, the American arm of Green Cross International, recently announced its plan to substitute all non-recyclable transfer packaging sent from the largest food distribution center in the world, Hunt’s Point Distribution Center in New York City, with recyclable packaging.

“If successful, the program would divert 30,000 tons per year of corrugated cardboard from the landfill and would reduce greenhouse gases by 103,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to taking 19,000 cars off the road, and would set the standard for greening transfer packaging throughout the world,” according to Global Green.

The group is looking to remove non-recyclable packaging, such as wax boxes, from its supply line. Interstate Container and Mountaire, partnering companies in the initiative, will conduct field trials on boxes used to ship wholesale poultry to test which substitutes perform best.

Annie White, director of Global Green USA’s Coalition for Resource Recovery said, “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.”

According to Global Green, “this is just the most recent step in the process to eliminate wax boxes.” In 2005 and 2006, popular retailers such as Albertsons and Wal-Mart worked with their supply chain to eliminate wax–coated boxes and 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.

The group is also looking into initiatives involving a voluntary protocol and standard which certifies boxes with alternative coatings as recyclable within the existing OCC recycling stream.

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