South Africa’s Packhouse Action Group (PAG) has revealed that it is investigating new strategies towards reducing plastic use in the fruit industry.
Suggestions include packaging made from organic material such as cornflour, by-products of sugar cane and other food waste.
There has also been some success with a new clamshell punnet design which uses 4g less plastic per punnet.
Another packaging recommendation for the industry is to use netting in packaging, such as net fruit bags or netting on one side of a bag.
The problem the industry faces, however is that the use of plastics improves shelf life and food safety, thereby reducing food waste.
“The industry has indicated that they are committed to change, but changes have to be practical," said Jacques du Preez, general manager trade and markets at Hortgro. "Fruit is alive and dynamic, it reacts with the packaging. Alternatives have to be financially viable for everyone. A viable solution needs to be sought that maintains the integrity of the fruit while not impacting negatively on the environment”.
The PAG’s main objective is to ensure that plastics are reduced, reused or as a last resort end up in a recycling chain.