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The Southtyrolean Consortium is playing a leading role in the launch of a 100% cardboard packaging.

As part of its constant search for more environment-friendly methods and processes, the VOG Consortium is now ready: the new packing line is working and the first all-cardboard 4-apple trays is being packed in these days. First deliveries are scheduled for the weekend: it is Biosüdtirol, member-coop of the VOG Consortium, who will shipping the first trial pallets to selected customers.

VOG has long been engaged on systematic research to reduce the use of “throw-away” plastic, replacing it with biodegradable, compostable or recyclable materials: the first practical application is now ready. Biosüdtirol became the first to trial the new packaging, with production, processing and sales tests, in response to strong demand from organic apple customers. This led to the adaptation of a new packaging line, producing 4-fruit packs made from 100% cardboard, with no need to use the traditional plastic film anymore.

That the problem to be solves was the dual function trays are required to perform – not only sealing the pack and protecting the fruit but also displaying the product, to enable the consumer to make an informed choice. Unlike a fruit tray covered with stretch film, a tray with cardboard cover does not allow easy “visual inspection” of the contents. Research was therefore focused on this aspect, and led to the creation of a custom-designed layout which provides a satisfactory view of the product.

“Organic apple consumers are extremely sensitive to this issue. We are happy with the results achieved, which we will evaluate on the basis of our customers’ feedback”, comments Werner Castiglioni, director of the Biosüdtirol Cooperative.

The first customers will put the new packaging on their shelves in the coming days. One of them is the Irish firm Begley’s. “We’ve been looking for a plastic-free packaging, especially for our best-selling 4-fruit size, for years. We’re proud to have been amongst the first to be notified of this opportunity by the VOG group, and we checked out the tests and confirmed our order at once,” Greg Begley explains.

“We’ve now broken the ice,” states VOG Consortium CEO Gerhard Dichgans, “and we’re currently investigating a number of alternative solutions, offered by the packaging industry. We are very thankful for the support which they gave us to find practical solutions. We will be ready in the autumn, for the start of the new apple season, with more packaging lines for ‘100% cardboard’ 4/6 fruit trays, which we are planning at other VOG group Cooperatives.”