Berry Gardens reduces plastic by 133 tonnes with launch of new packaging initiatives
Berry Gardens, one of the UK’s largest suppliers of berries and cherries, is set to save an impressive 133 tonnes of plastic as a result of new packaging initiatives adopted to help reduce the business’ reliance on plastic.
The company is leading the way in reducing plastic in berry punnets thanks to its unique grower-owned model. As such, all packaging suppliers used by growers are approved centrally, meaning all Berry Gardens grower-members will commit to using all new packaging moving forward.
Berry Gardens has championed a range of different packaging initiatives trialled this year, including working with Sharpak Aylesham, a subsidiary of Group Guillin, one of Europe's largest packaging solution manufacturers. The partnership saw the launch of SP AirLite, a range of groundbreaking recyclable strawberry punnets with a protected design which mitigates the need for bubble pads, reducing the plastic weight featured in core punnets in an industry first.
In addition to the removal of the bubble pad, the mono-material punnets containing high recycled content were redesigned with a plastic weight reduction of between 18 to 20% over the current packs, saving hundreds of tonnes of plastic. This also has the advantage of delivering the plastic weight reduction that all UK retailers require as part of their ongoing responsible packaging strategies.
Siobhan Parks, head of packaging at Berry Gardens, said: ‘As part of our commitment to packaging innovation we are delighted to be first to market with a range of our recent initiatives, notably our bubble pad free strawberry punnet.’
Additionally, Berry Gardens partnered with sustainable packaging manufacturer Coveris to launch a new printed lidding film containing over 30% post consumer recyclate (PCR). The first to market, food safe PCR film is available nationwide across all major multiple Berry Gardens lines including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and other stone fruit.
Marking a major step forward for the fresh produce packaging sector, the new recycled film reduces carbon impact by significantly offsetting the requirement for virgin polymer, removing around 53,000 tonnes from the supply chain annually. The film also supports the 30% recycled content requirement for the 2022 plastics packaging tax with the option of up to 50% recyclate available.
Nick Allen, chief executive officer at Berry Gardens, said: ‘We take our impact on the environment very seriously and plastic reduction is just one way the business is making more responsible choices for the future of our planet. As an industry which has historically relied on virgin plastic, we are proud to be championing these plastic reduction initiatives and will continue to work with our growers to produce and bring to market the very best quality and tasting fresh berries, with as little impact on the environment as possible.’
In addition to the above, all of Berry Gardens’ punnets will be produced using Preventative Ocean Plastic (POP) which is expected to save 204 tonnes of plastic from entering the ocean – the equivalent of 8.2 million water bottles.
The new POP packaging uses ‘ocean bound plastic’, plastic collected from beaches and coastlines which otherwise would have ended up in the ocean and features in the majority of own label punnets supplied to major UK supermarkets by Berry Gardens. Punnets will contain at least 80% recycled content, 30% of which is made up of ocean bound plastic waste.
These achievements all look to fulfil the aims of the UK Plastics Pact, where Britain is looking to meet the following targets by 2025:
To make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable.
To ensure that 70% of plastic packaging is effectively recycled or composted.
To ensure that, on average, 30% of the material used in plastic packaging has been recycled.
To try to eliminate unnecessary single use plastic items by removing, redesigning or reusing them.