Responsible packaging: what we’re doing to reduce the waste stream.
Over the past several years, my farm has sold salad greens to local stores pre-packaged and labeled in non-recyclable plastic bags. It’s the local norm to package that way. The problem with those bags is that they add up in our land-fills. And the quality of the greens is compromised due to the inevitable squishing from being boxed and shipped, put on a shelf and handled and then into a shopping bag next to the carton of milk. I have spent several years trying to find a responsible alternative that reduces the plastic in our waste stream, keeps the quality of the greens in tact, and also is affordable for a small farm like mine. I first thought I would go into recyclable plastic clamshells, the cost was definitely higher than bags but I would be getting two out of the three requirements right?
After researching recyclable plastic clamshells, the kind that almost all produce like California salad mixes, berries, mini peppers come in are in most cases sorted out of the recycling and dumped in the landfill because the grade of plastic is not high enough quality to recycle. If it does get used, it is “down-cycled” into cheap plastic items that will end up in the landfill anyway.
Not at all responsible. I don’t want to give my customers the false security in thinking that they can recycle the container and all is good.
That brought me to a very exciting find compostable plant-based plastic! This gives me two out of the three requirements. Though they are expensive for a farm like mine, I feel that it is the right thing to do and that out-weighs the cost.
The label on these containers are also dissolvable. As far as I know, Four Pillars Farm will be the first in our local Middlebury-Burlington area to sell our greens in compostable containers at stores! The container’s manufacturer recommends these clam shells be composted in a municipal composting site, unless you have a well maintained hot compost pile as they require 140 degree temps to break down. Vermont is in the process of requiring that all house-hold compostable items be composted, which means that the municipal dumps and transfers-stations are required to accept compostable items.
We will be posting a link on our website to help you find out how and where to compost your containers.