If you are interested in helping to reducing plastic waste read on!
About This Project
To replace plastic packages that berries and tomatoes come in with a more sustainable produce container by helping the first high volume, early adopter farmer integrate the carton-forming equipment into their high-speed line.
HOW IT STARTED: THE RECYCLING REALITY
As a small commercial farmer in Kentucky I felt downright irresponsible putting my super sweet, sustainably-grown, lovely little cherry tomatoes in plastic clamshells.
Why? Because no American recycling centers will take plastic produce clamshells! Yes, really! Go ahead and call yours, they have to throw them out because the ultra stuck-on labels contaminate the resin restoration process. Plus clamshells melt at different temperatures than the easily-recycled resins of the same code like water bottles. This makes them too hard to sort and too expensive for buyers to make money from.
Because of this sad recycling reality, billions of plastic produce clamshells end up in landfills each year and I was contributing to that! Every season I searched and searched for an alternative. When I couldn’t find an affordable and effective package that worked commercially, in 2018 I was blessed with an idea and I created one.
My Sustainable Produce Container is made of bakery box type paperboard with many improvements over plastic clamshells:
- 100% recyclable cardboard construction.
- Earth-themed vents (that represent all the elements that went into making the produce) provide ventilation and allow consumers a view of the produce.
- The containers ship flat and are assembled at the agricultural site so it saves freight costs, carbon footprints and warehouse space.
- They are the same size as the various clamshells on the market today so they fit in the same master cartons.
- For soft berries like raspberries, farmers can eliminate the soaker pad.
- They can be full-color printed, eliminating the label and adhesive and assembled with the natural-looking brown on the outside or with the eye-catching white side out.
Although the container will biodegrade in a backyard compost pile, it’s construction and design is stronger than plastic clamshells. This makes it easy to stack the containers higher, saving retailers space and keeping the product safe for the ride around the grocery store and the trip home in the consumer’s car. And because I no longer felt guilty packing the most I could get into a plastic quart container, as a farmer I was able to sell a pint of my sun sugars at a better price in an earth-friendly container. This also meant less food waste for the consumer seeking more convenience size amounts.
WHO’S USING THEM?
Currently, the Sustainable Produce Container is being used by small and medium farms across the USA and Canada for cherry tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, gourmet mushrooms, cucamelons and even microgreens.
Consumer response has been over-the-top thrilled with them! In the two seasons I’ve been delivering my sun sugars in these containers to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Kroger stores, customers have said “Thank you for doing this” and “I’d pay extra for these!” and “I hope you replace ALL the plastic clamshells here!”. A mushroom grower in Texas (Hi-Fi Mycology) says, “The downside is the price and having to hand assemble them but my customers love them so send me 3000 more!” And Taste of Redland Farmer’s Market purchased 9000 of the Half Pints to meet zero waste requirements for this year’s weeklong Super Bowl Live Event at Bayfront Park, Miami!
WHO SHOULD USE THEM?
Our goal is to get a million piece grower using the Sustainable Produce Container. If we produce millions instead of the tens of thousands we’re printing now, all farmers benefit with lower prices we can then offer. In fact, if we sold millions we could totally compete with current plastic clamshell package prices!
While our employees can hand fold up to 120 of these containers an HOUR, growers that sell millions of pounds of produce need containers placed on their automated fill lines at a speed of 120 a MINUTE. The equipment to form and then seal my containers that fast is expensive – about $200,000 per machine – but depending on their volume, a bigger grower could get their return on investment in less than two years by only adding less than $0.05 to their price.
Would you pay a nickel more for a package you knew wouldn’t harm the earth? One you could truly, easily recycle?
Of the new alternatives to traditional clamshells popping up like plastic seal punnets and corrugated clamshells, the Sustainable Produce Container offers the best solution of totally replacing plastic at the most competitive cost. But the equipment cost to form and close the containers is an obstacle. Plus I’ve been told by produce industry people that most high volume growers don’t have the margins to spend money and are waiting for plastic to become “biodegradable”. That wait can be awhile – can you help today?
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Help us offer a financial and community incentive to the first major grower of $50,000 to cover part of the initial one-time equipment and integration costs.
Getting the first major grower to take this big financial step will wake up the industry!
It’ll start a chain reaction of green envy and set the sun on single-use plastic clamshells! Contact me to donate today! Every dollar counts toward making a statement to tell the grocery stores that you are sick of the single-use plastic waste. Every dollar you donate encourages growers to switch to a truly more sustainable package. Every dollar given means there’s that much less plastic going into a landfill!
As a sugar junky, I started growing the few vegetables I liked a decade ago in order to eat healthier and help Kentucky kids eat healthier, too. I never dreamed I’d end up designing something healthy for the earth, too. But it’s hard to make this happen all by myself so I really do appreciate any help you can give!
THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Learn more about the new container: https://SustainableProduceContainer.com/
For details about some of the rewards visit our main site: www.SunSugarFarms.com
Have questions? email [email protected] or call/text 859-630-2694
Use Of Funds
$50,000 TIPPING POINT GOAL
$50,000 will help cover part of the initial engineering work to get the first million piece grower up and running with their existing current high-speed auto-fill equipment. Only the first grower will really have to experience this integration learning curve since 90% of the produce industry uses the same auto-fill manufacturer.
Along with one of the most experienced paper carton producing companies in the nation, we have partnered with one of the highest efficiency carton folder equipment makers in the world. They can build the machines to form and then close and seal the carton like a cereal box at speeds of 120 cartons/minute average. These machines cost over $100,000 each though, even with their very best pricing.
$100,000 STRETCH GOAL
Our main goal is to help with those initial integration costs but it would also be a huge incentive – in an industry whose margins are slim – if we could also pay for part of the forming or closing machines. Additional funds on top of that could also pay for the die of new 2 Quart and 4 pound containers that could appeal to large wholesale club stores.
Since plastic in the produce world seems to be endless, so do the possibilities to make a difference! And, once we start printing millions, the containers will become even more affordable to all farmers. It’s time for the sun to set on single-use plastic produce packaging!