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Cardboard made from tomato plants wins European sustainability prize

This unique solid cardboard, enriched with tomato plant fibres, produced by Solidus Solutions, has been declared the winner of the Packaging Europe Sustainability Awards 2016. Packaging Europe, the renowned international journal of packaging, organised this contest for the second time. There were eight categories, for each a winner was chosen. The solid cardboard enriched with fibres from tomato plants, won in the category ‘bio based packaging’.

Solidus Solution has developed the process to produce solid cardboard from tomato plants, together with partners in Westland in the Netherlands. The winning feature that clinched victory in the Packaging Europe Sustainability Awards 2016, was the fact that the plants, which bore the tomatoes in the package, were the same plants that were used as material for the packaging! Now, tomatoes can be packed in their own plant fibres. This innovation can be used to achieve a CO2 emission reduction per ton cardboard (about 200 boxes of 6 kilograms tomatoes) that could amount to 54,500 g CO2 eq. This is equivalent to the emission of CO2 while driving 420 kilometres in a car. 

There are 1800 hectares in the Netherlands where 85 million kilos of tomato plants grow every year. In general, the lifecycle of these plants ends on the compost pile. Now, the plant waste flow can be combined with recycled paper, and used for the production of recyclable solid cardboard. Per hectare of tomato plants, 100,000 tomato boxes (6 kilogram trays) can be produced, which is exactly enough for the packaging of the 600 ton of tomatoes produced on that same hectare. The production this year supplies packaging for the volumes of next year. The cardboard equivalent of these 100,000 trays could be used, of course, for other kinds of packaging.

Due to a unique cooperation between producers, the plant waste processor, the cardboard factory, knowledge institutes, university, consultants, and municipalities, clustered in Bio Base Westland, a win-win situation has been created. The producer can ‘repurchase’ solid cardboard packaging, enriched with his own plants, to use for packaging his own tomatoes. Solidus Solutions and Van Vliet Contrans are working together to optimise the process to use tomato plants for cardboard boxes. 

The first solid cardboard 3 and 5 kilogram tomato boxes enriched with tomato plant fibres have been developed for The Greenery by Solidus Solutions. The first 250 g/ 500 g tomato cartons for consumers were created for The Harvest House. Recently, Solidus Solutions has produced new 1.5 kg and 5 kg tomato boxes from this unique cardboard for Naturelle, wholesaler of organic products. 

For more information: 
Saskia Cooman
Solidus Solutions

T: +31 (0)619295218
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