Victoria’s reusable crate trial aims to cut single-use packaging

By Ashmeeta Subra  April 11th, 2024

The Victoria Unboxed project is swapping cardboard boxes for reusable crates to tackle ‘invisible’ waste in Melbourne’s fresh produce supply chain.

Led by Sustain and Sustainability Victoria, the pilot scheme supplied 1,000 reusable plastic crates to farms and wholesalers to transport fresh produce across Melbourne. The trial aims to reduce the reliance on single-use packaging waste from materials such as cardboard, paper, and plastic.  

Farmers were particularly keen on the approach as it eliminates the need for frequent packaging purchases for single-use cardboard, wax boxes or polystyrene packaging. The rollout was successful among these suppliers as they embraced the reusable crates for transporting produce. 

Senior researcher at Monash University, Jennifer Macklin, highlighted the necessity to shift away from single-use plastic, prioritising reusable materials over recyclable ones. 

“We need to move away from this idea that we can have a single-use item and it’s OK because it gets recycled, to realising that it’s not nearly as good as utilising reusable materials,” Macklin said. 

Macklin noted that plastic’s reusability could result in lesser environmental impact compared to materials like cardboard and paper, which require large amounts of water to create cardboard, grow trees and produce paper.  

“For reuse to be better, it has to be reused over and over again, and it’s much easier to make that happen with plastic, and in commercial situations,” she added. 

In the past year, fruit and vegetable wholesaler Natoora has integrated reusable crates into their supply chain in an effort to reduce their annual packaging waste by five tonnes across operations. According to the wholesaler, the crates provide greater durability and ensure fresher produce, compared to cardboard boxes that often suffer from bottom structures falling out during deliveries.  

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 

Ashmeeta Subra

With background in international relations and marketing communications, Ashmeeta is excited to use her skills to encourage positive environmental actions through Planet Ark. She believes that by taking small actions, we can help make a big difference and be good stewards of our planet. Outside of work, she loves spending time in nature and enjoying downtime at the beach.

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