The producer organisation Reichenau-Gemüse eG from the island of Reichenau in Lake Constance takes an environmentally friendly approach to packaging its vegetable products.
The Reichenau-Gemüse cooperative produces and markets 16,000 tons of fresh vegetables a year, almost 40 per cent of which are now organic. All of these need to be packaged well and as environmentally friendly as possible. The desire for less plastic waste is a huge challenge for society as a whole, says Christian Müller, Deputy Managing Director of the Reichenau-Gemüse eG producer organisation. “Everyone needs to do as much as they can for this in their own area. That was also the objective on Reichenau.”
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For many of the loose vegetable products, environmentally friendly folded recyclable punnets are already in use. However, disposable trays also had to be produced for smaller items, for example tomatoes. So far, the cooperative has met the requirements of the food trade in the form of all-cardboard trays (85 paper from recycled paper) with a plastic film. “Although a large proportion of the cardboard used in this form of small packaging was already recyclable, the proportion of plastic was a problem,” Müller says. “Together with our supplier of the corrugated cardboard trays and an inventor from the Swabian Jura, we looked for a practicable way to get rid of the remaining plastic, while still leaving leave the goods visible and protecting them optimally for transport. The result is a packaging machine that does away with the plastic film but still meets all requirements for protection, visibility and labelling.” The machine manufacturer has developed a machine that can seal corrugated cardboard trays in widely varying formats by means of a dot of adhesive dot so that the requirements of the vegetable retailer are fully met. This avoids flow packing the tray, i.e. the use of plastic film. The labelling requirements are met by using inkjet printing. A degree of flexibility in the sealing process is required for different tomato sizes. After fine-tuning and presentation to customers, the new packaging will be launched on the market this season.