A Packaging Conundrum - Trying to lessen our impact.

Posted by Steve Oram on

The thorny issue of packaging is something that we are continually looking at with regard to our Fruit + Veg Boxes. How can we be as environmentally conscious as possible, but still maintain perfect produce? This is a question that companies everywhere are grappling with, here’s what we do…

Our 100% Biodegradable bags

Our biodegradable bags that you see looking after our soft fruit and tomatoes are made from something called low density polythene (LDPE) and include a bio-additive that accelerates degradation. They’re designed to break down into natural elements (co2, water, humus, minerals) within 2-5 years (depending on how they’re stored). You can recycle this if your Local Authority mentions:

  • Bread bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Squeezable bottles i.e hand cream tubes
  • Bubble wrap – if specifically mentioned
  • Carrier bags that can be stretched – Local authorities often don’t collect carrier bags, but can be recycled in local supermarkets

LDPE can also be reused as bin liners. We use them in our food bin at home!

When you compare their lifespan to that of normal, everyday plastic bags, which is over 1000 years, these little wonders are a no brainer. This is, however, not the whole story.

In the past, you may recall we used paper bags, which are easier for you guys at home to recycle or use in your compost. In practice though, they weren’t suitable. Due to the freshness of our fruit and veg, dew or mud from the field can still be present at the time of packing, especially deep into the winter months. This reduces those paper bags to mush, and they’d split as the customer pulled them out the box, not providing the protection needed to bring you the quality that you expect.

Also, did you know that the manufacture of one paper bag in comparison to one standard plastic bag takes 4x the energy! Studies have shown that for a paper bag to neutralise it’s environmental impact into comparison to a plastic bag it would have to be used anywhere between 3 and 47 times. This is somewhat lessened by its recyclability, but paper can only be recycled so many times before it has to be thrown away, and due to it’s inability to handle moisture and the fact that they weren’t strong enough to hold anywhere enough weight, it was very unlikely that we, or you would be able to reuse these paper bags more than once, let alone up to 47 times.

One option that has been presented, and one that we are very interested in monitoring is that of the ‘compostable’ bag. It is relatively new technology, using plant matter which breaks down within 6 months under normal composting conditions. The issue for us, at present is cost. These bags currently cost 7x the amount and would easily add at least a £1 per box we send to you.

The easiest way we can approach this issue is to only use these bags when we absolutely have to. You will only receive produce in our biodegradable bags if we have no other option to ensure the quality of your produce.

We would love to be able to take bags back and reuse them, however, this is prohibited by food hygiene due to the risk of cross-contamination. We are hopeful that you at home are able to reuse these bags as much as possible. Use them as shopping bags, bin liners, or if you’re anything like us as a rugby playing and coaching family, many become boot bags for a few months before being recycled.

If you have any further questions, or indeed solutions. We would love to hear them! Our virtual ‘door’ is always open. Email enquiry@kentvegbox.co.uk to let us know!

 We hope that with the increased scrutiny on environmentally sound packaging that we can continue to evolve and lessen our impact. The technology is constantly evolving and we hope, with your help, we can be on the cutting edge of this.


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8 comments

  • I’m on the fence with the bags to be honest. The biodegradable bit is a must, but are the bags themselves a must?
    I did have blueberries wrapped in a bag this week, which I thought was odd as it was already in a box.
    If they need to be kept separate from the other veg, how about a cardboard divider in the box?
    Also would you like the boxes returned to you?
    Or maybe replace the boxes with cleanable crates that get exchanged each time for a small introductory fee to cover yourself customers that do not reorder? I’d be happy to do this to reduce the cardboard.

    Toni on
  • Hi Tracey

    We cannot accept the bags back as they bring contamination back into the unit. They can be recycled as well as reused.

    S

    steve @ KVB on
  • I don’t use small plastic bags so are you happy for us to return them to you for disposal? Or can we give you pots for toms? Or can you put them in loose on top? We take cloth bags to supermarket or our own pots.

    Tracey McGuire on
  • Thanks for all the feedback – much appreciated. We are constantly reviewing the use/etc looking for ways to improve.

    LM – we have to put the fruit in bags as the boxes release mud dust in transport so it would contaminate the fruit :(.

    Steve

    steve @ KVB on
  • I like your biodegradable bags. They fit my small kitchen recycling/compost food bin.

    Kay Diment on

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