South African apple and pear producer, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, counts United Kingdom supermarket group Tesco among its largest export customers.
In collaboration with Tesco’s South African hub, Tru-Cape looked at ways to reduce the use of packaging plastics.
This, according to Tru-
Cape’s quality manager, Amanda Fisher, included a packaging audit where Tru-Cape looked at the number of protective bubble sheets used in each carton, the microns of liner bags used to package loose fruit, looked at reducing the film size of the packs to reduce unnecessary plastic usage and looked at alternatives to the liner bags used for loose packaging.
“One of the areas in which we could reduce our plastic footprint was in the bubble sheet we use for protecting the fruit from bruising. The challenge was to remove the protective bubble sheet, without an increase in injury when our product arrived in the United Kingdom after a three to four-week shipping period”, Ms Fisher says, adding: “The purpose of protective bubble sheet in our cartons is to prevent and lower the risk of bruising on our fruit during the storing and shipping period before reaching Tesco. Tru-Cape had to do several trials and investigated whether it was possible to pack fruit in cartons with minimal protective bubble sheets to protect the fruit. The results indicated that we could lower our protective bubble sheet usage without increasing the bruising on the fruit.”
Ms Fisher says that based on this information Tru-Cape has, over the past year, moved from using two protective bubble sheets on all varieties to one, and even eliminating the protective bubble sheet usage completely on specific varieties, adding: “This reduction in protective bubble sheet consumption has resulted in a dramatic decrease in plastics used. We have been able to reduce our plastic consumption by 61.25%, going from 10 649.15kg of protective bubble sheet to 4 126.65kg of protective bubble sheet, from 2018 to 2019 without jeopardising the final quality of the fruit.”
Tru-Cape managing director, Roelf Pienaar, says that the work that Ms Fisher and the South African Tesco team hub have done will support Tesco in moving towards their reduction in packaging weight goal by 2025. “This collaboration also demonstrates the value of maintaining close relationships between Tru-Cape and its customers”, she says.