Sustainable production, clean energy, investments in organic growing and now also 100% compostable eco fruitbags and «grass paper» packagings. VOG prepares for an even more environment-friendly future with real actions

VOG opens the second decade of the century with a focus on environmental sustainability, from field to table. At Fruit Logistica 2020, the South Tyrol – Südtirol apple growers’ Consortium, with its over 4,600 members and 12 cooperatives, is presenting several green innovations that confirm its genuine commitment to protecting the landscape in which it operates and safeguarding the ecosystem.

The key measures relate to packagings. First and foremost, in response to demand from a number of customers, during the next few weeks it will already be introducing 100% compostable clear fruitbags. The new, certified eco-bags, totally GMO-free, are made from sugar-cane and thistle and sunflower seed oils. They therefore meet all European requirements for home composting and break down within 180 days. The biodegradable bags, able to contain from 750 g to a kilo of apples, and will initially be launched on the market by Biosüdtirol, the VOG organic cooperative at the state-of-the-art in sourcing environment-friendly solutions.

Alongside these, «grass paper» packagings for apples are also on their way. This material consists of 50% dried grass, combined with recycled paper or fresh wood fibres. Every tonne of «grass paper» saves about 6,000 litres of water, while electricity consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are also sharply lower than for paper made from wood by a chemical process.

These two new types of innovative packaging, which we will be previewing at Fruit Logistica, exemplify the VOG Consortium’s commitment to sustainability,» declares VOG CEO Walter Pardatscher. «We have always focused strongly on the needs of the environment we live in. It is worth mentioning, for example, the photovoltaic plants installed at all our cooperatives, our investments in organic production, and the cardboard foodtainers presented during the last few months, which are already a success.»

In fact, after the trial phase in recent months, the project involving all-cardboad trays for 4/6 apples is now fully operational. This new packaging line is able to produce foodtainers that do not require plastic stretch film. This idea has also been developed by Biosüdtirol, and has already received a very positive reception, to the extent that lines for packaging apples in these sustainable packagings will also be installed at other VOG cooperatives in the next few months.

Clean energy

Also on the subject of the commitment to environmental sustainability, it should be underlined that all Consortium cooperatives have photovoltaic plants. The data speak for themselves: the total surface area on the roofs producing solar energy is 65,938 m², equivalent to 10 football fields. Photovoltaic power output is 8,505,088 kWh; if we calculate that the annual consumption of an average household is about 2,700 kWh, this amount of electricity corresponds to the annual use of 3,150 households. Overall, this 100% green source provides 30% of all the Consortium’s electricity.

Organic

Last but not least, investments in organic production continue. A further 170 hectares of organic apple production will be added in the 2020/2021 season, to allow the demand for this product to be covered all year round, including with new, better-keeping varieties. Moreover, the trees planted in recent years are bearing more and more fruit. Therefore, in the second part of this season the range will already be expanded with particularly tasty fruit with a long shelf life: Bonita, Natyra and Story® Inored.