May 8, 2014

WFM Project: re-usable packaging

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If you know me you probably know I’m fascinated by trash. It’s this enormous tangible measure of our efficiency as a society and we’re brilliant at completely hiding it from everybody.

I knew nothing about the waste generated behind the scenes when I quit my job to start Clover. Packaging that is handed to you is easier to see and understand. But for everything that ends up in your hand there’s a bunch more that already went to the landfill. I know a lot of cardboard is recycled but you should see the mountains and mountains of boxes that are used to move goods from one place to another. And I know enough to know that recycling isn’t the same as re-use or reduction of use.

We’re puzzling on this one for our WFM project. Chris found these awesome re-usable corrugated boxes. They’re really really expensive. They don’t pay for themselves until you’ve been using them for about a year. But there’s virtually no waste. They’re rated to last 1,000+ uses. So for food that would be sold in the prepared food area at Whole Foods we would be packing “bag in box,” the standard for our industry, but instead of a cardboard box we’d be using a plastic corrugated box that would be returned to us each time we drop a new shipment. Whole Foods is open to trying it. I’m hoping it’s not too much of a hassle for them to deal with. If it works this could be awesome. And like most things that have real impact the potential is that others see how well it works and can copy us.

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