New Study Shows IFCO Reusable Plastic Containers Generate 31% Less CO2 Compared to Cardboard Boxes

IFCO has released the results of a new peer-reviewed life cycle analysis (LCA) study comparing Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) and corrugated cardboard containers used to package and transport fresh produce from farms to retail locations.  The results show RPCs are more environmentally-sustainable than corrugated boxes in seven key categories.  The study concludes that, for the same produce shipments, RPCs:

  • Produce 31% lower CO2 emissions
  • Produce 85% less solid waste
  • Consume 65% less water
  • Require 34% less energy
  • Contribute significantly less environmental pollution (72% lower eutrophication, 51% lower ozone depletion and 48% lower acidification)
  • Produce 6% less photochemical smog. However, differences were not significant enough to make a conclusive comparison

“IFCO has a strong commitment to preserving our natural resources for future generations,” said Daniel Walsh, president, IFCO North America.  “These results clearly show RPCs are the intelligent choice for growers, retailers, and food processors that share our goal of an environmentally sustainable food production system.”

The LCA study was conducted by Franklin Associates (Franklin), a nationally-recognized life cycle assessment and solid waste management consulting firm, in accordance with ISO standards 14040 and 14044.  Franklin looked at the sustainable attributes of RPCs, display-ready corrugated fiber containers (DRCs) and non-display-ready corrugated fiber containers (NDCs) used to package, transport and display fresh produce. Results were peer-reviewed by packaging and LCA experts at the School of Packaging at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.

During the study, Franklin reviewed the environmental performance factors for RPCs, DRCs, and NDCs during use with a varied sample of fresh produce commodities.  The study examined the entire lifecycle of each packaging system, from raw material extraction to postconsumer disposal.

The study concluded, “In seven out of eight examined environmental indicators (energy demand, global warming potential, ozone depletion potential, water consumption, acidification, eutrophication, solid waste generation), the IFCO RPCs, as defined by this analysis, provide greater environmental savings for delivering produce in North America than does the use of fiber corrugated containers for these commodities.”

“IFCO evaluates its sustainability performance on an ongoing basis so our customers and their consumers can have the confidence that IFCO RPCs are the best choice when it comes to preserving our planet for future generations through responsible business practices,” concluded Mr. Walsh.

To read the study, click here: https://www.ifco.com/na/en/responsibility