One of Australia's largest producers of sweet corn and beans has reduced plastic packaging on its produce by 80%, saving hundreds of thousands of disposable plastic trays from entering Australian rubbish heaps each month.
After five years of experimentation, Trandos Farms managing director Jim Trandos found a way to tightly wrap pre-packed corn using a method which did not require plastic trays: "We had to get these trays custom made for various supermarkets. We get them out of Asia, they come in sea containers. I had to order them six months ahead.”
Trandos Farms grow corn year-round at their properties near Gingin and Broome and are the main supplier of beans and sweet corn to major supermarkets in Western Australia, as well as exporting to several overseas markets. While some produce such as cucumber is wrapped in plastic to extend its shelf life, other companies are also looking to reduce plastic use where possible.
About half of the corn the Trandos family sell is pre-packed where it is cut into cobs, peeled, and packed into plastic. "It's just what consumers want unfortunately. Something with a bar code. It's already partially prepared," Trandos said. “Consumers are in a hurry, they see the product, there's three or four of them, that's what they're happy with and away they go."
Trandos said he had purchased a machine to wrap the corn and the process could potentially be used for other hardy lines of fruit and vegetables.