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Packaging: The need for better solutions

Despite the huge number of innovations, the fundamental problems of produce packaging do not seem to have been solved in any comprehensive way.

To all appearances, recycling, composting, and reducing plastic use, however praiseworthy, appear to be interim solutions that will be supplanted over the next decade.

By what, then? Nothing that is visible on the market right now. We can move toward a solution, however, by thinking backward: starting with an ideal and seeing how it might be implemented.

The ideal produce package is completely visible to the consumer, protects the fruit or vegetable during shipping, offers a wide amount of space for branding, and is harmless to the environment.

To this end, we might imagine a clear plastic clamshell (or bag) that would be as durable and reliable as those presently on the market, but which is completely disposable in the home.

Made of cellulose or some other environmentally harmless substance, it could be destroyed by running it under a water tap for a minute, so that it ends up in the sewage system without causing any clogging or pollution. Moreover, it would require no complicated systems for recycling and reuse.

Could it happen? Ideas that were much crazier have turned into reality.

This is an excerpt from the Applied Technology feature in the September/October 2021 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue.

Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.