Produce: German Sustainability Study Favors Reusables

A recent update to a 2006 study once again favors the use of reusable packaging. In August 2008, the “Stiftung Initiative Mehrweg” (“Foundation for Reusable Systems”, a foundation under German Civil Law) ordered an update of the study “The Sustainability of Packaging Systems for Fruit and Vegetable Transport in Europe based on Life-Cycle- Analysis.”

To quote the executive summary, this is:
a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study to analyze and compare the common packaging systems for fruit and vegetables in Europe with respect to their environmental, economic and social impacts, using current data on the production and use of fruit and vegetable transport boxes. The study has primarily been authorized and conducted in 2006 and aims at comparing multi-way plastic crates, one-way cardboard boxes and one-way wooden boxes in terms of environmental impacts, costs and selected social aspects.

The study, carried out by the Department Life Cycle Engineering (GaBi) at the University of Stuttgart and PE International by order of the Stiftung Initiative Mehrweg (SIM), was aimed at being representative to Europe as a whole rather than specific to a specific area or product type.

The report found that reusable packaging, specifically reusable plastic containers in the case of the European produce industry, had the least environmental impact, versus single trip packaging, in this study that being wood or corrugated containers. The executive summary of the report, “The Sustainability of Packaging Systems for Fruit and Vegetable Transport in Europe based on Life-Cycle- Analysis – Update 2009” can be found at the www.europoolsystem.com website.