This is not a puff piece but …

John Mullinder, Executive Director


We hosted an excellent morning seminar recently that covered a lot of ground regarding paper packaging and the environment. At least that’s the feedback we’re getting, so we’ll take it! For a flavour of the event, check out this short video summary.

First up was a presentation on the challenges and opportunities the industry faces. These included how to counter misleading environmental claims; the fact that it’s far cheaper to landfill stuff rather than to recycle it; and the urgent need to make the current Blue Box funding formula fairer to all materials.

The second presentation, by Dan Lantz of Cascades Recovery, covered changes in the composition of materials ending up in the home and how both collection and sorting has evolved over time. He outlined several specific cases where producers could design packaging for the environment better, and finished off with a brief update on North America’s first 100% industry-funded and controlled printed paper and packaging Blue Box program in British Columbia. Some good lessons to be learned!

The third and fourth speakers dovetailed nicely on the subject of corrugated boxes and reusable plastic crates (RPCs), which are competing for market share in the fresh produce sector. The traditional corrugated box system is a single-use operation where the box is used once then recycled for further use. The RPC, on the other hand, is used multiple times with a washing stage in between.

Warriner: found crates unsanitary, doubts being sanitised.

Warriner: found crates unsanitary, doubts being sanitised.


Dr. Keith Warriner, a food scientist at the University of Guelph, gave a detailed background on RPC use in the meat and dairy sectors and the guidelines and recommendations that had been developed for their use with fresh produce. He said that plastic crate operators needed to be far more open about the details of their washing and sanitisation procedures. What he had found in two years of testing, replicated in more recent US studies, was that a high proportion of the crates were unsanitary. In fact, he doubted that all RPCs were going through the required washing and sanitisation stage.



The Fibre Box Association’s Dennis Colley then presented the case for the corrugated box: its role in protecting and delivering produce, its retail appeal and food safety aspects. He compared corrugated and RPCs on a Sustainability Scorecard, concluding that the best way to combat misinformation was to let the facts speak for you.


P.S. Electronic copies of the slide presentations are available to members through PPEC.  For a video of Dr. Warriner’s presentation, click here. PPEC member companies can get the complete video package by logging in to the Members-Only page at

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