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Largest Poultry Plant in the U.S. Switches to Recyclable, Wax-Free Boxes

Mountaire Farms has converted the boxes used to transport poultry products from its Lumber Bridge, NC, plant to waxless boxes that are recyclable and compostable.

The boxes, made by Interstate Container, are not coated in wax like the majority of boxes used to transport cold or ice-packed foods. They provide the same protection, but are recyclable, as certified by the Fibre Box Association.

Mountaire and Interstate Container began trialing the waxless boxes in March last year as part of an initiative by Global Green USA's Coalition for Resource Recovery to test recyclable boxes for transporting food.

The trials were done at the Hunt's Point distribution center in New York, with Mountaire first switching a few pallets worth of wax-coated boxes to recyclable ones, until it was converting entire trucks and then all of its boxes that went through Hunt's Point.

After the pilot program ended in September, Mountaire decided to convert all of its modified atmosphere packaging (boxes in which the atmosphere is modified in order to extend the product's shelf life) to the recyclable boxes, and it also planned to switch all of its ice-packed products to modified atmosphere packaging so it could eventually switch all of its boxes to waxless versions.

This month, Mountaire finished converting to waxless boxes at its Lumber Bridge facility, the largest poultry plant in the U.S.

Aside from being recyclable, the waxless boxes are smaller than previous boxes, saving on materials, and by moving away from ice-packed boxes, Mountaire expects to save millions of gallons of water annually. If all of its new boxes are recycled, it would result in some 100,000 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Global Green USA is pushing for other companies in the food transportation industry to switch to recyclable, wax-free products for shipping poultry, meat, produce and seafood. The group estimates that about 1.5 million tons of non-recyclable wax-covered boxes are trashed a year. Not only would a great amount of emission and material reductions come about by large-scale switches to waxless boxes, but companies would also save on garbage hauling and disposal costs.

Mountaire packaging - Courtesy Global Green USA

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