Manufacturers and retailers are looking to innovation to find sustainable solutions to replace single-use plastic. One such solution is the locally manufactured Freshpact range of paper punnets, developed by Mpact, a South African packaging manufacturer and recycler. This relatively new concept in fresh produce grocery packaging has given shoppers and brand owners an environmentally sustainable alternative to single-use plastic while assisting in building a circular economy.
A linear economy consists of taking resources, making a product, and disposing of it after it has been used. A circular economy, meanwhile, is a model of production and consumption that involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products to ensure value is maximized and waste minimized. This economic model empowers communities and boosts the local economy. For Mpact's products, this means that what cannot be reused should be collected, recycled, and made into new products.
Made from food-safe, 100% FSC-certified paper material, the Freshpact punnets can be reused and recycled after use. The Freshpact trays offer stakeholders in the fresh produce market the attributes of the traditional trays with the added benefit of being biodegradable, curbside recyclable, and, thus, sustainable.
“Our recyclable punnets contribute to the reduction of single-use plastics, create a circular economy, and go a long way towards meeting the sustainability objectives of our clients,” says Wouter Heunis, Innovation and Technical Lead at Mpact Corrugated.
“Distinguishing factors include the brandability of our product, our barrier coatings that are moisture and grease resistant, and the rigidity of the punnets, all of which makes them ideal for withstanding cold storage and transportation,” he continues.
"Since the introduction of the range in October 2019, we have grown our range substantially, and have actively driven sustainability by converting plastic to paper. To date, these efforts have saved approximately 1200 m3 of landfill space, an area as large as 480 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
"With our national footprint, we are supplying the largest premium retail group in South Africa with 100% recyclable packaging for its exotic tomato range. We have supplied the tomato trays and punnets for two consecutive years and started the new line of Kraft Herb pots in 2021. Our packaging has been well received by its customers,” says Heunis. “The design objective of the new Kraft herb pots is to annually save seven tonnes of single-use plastic from ending up in landfill."