We started the box scheme as environmentalists and campaigners and we have always tried to research and understand how to minimise the impact from our products. The box scheme allows us to get produce to people straight from our fields. So why are some things still in plastic bags?
We have a policy of minimally packaging things if possible. The only things that come in plastic usually are the delicate leaves. This is for a number of reasons:
Leaves go limp very quickly as water evaporates from them and the bag means that they are still good when you get them. Much more energy goes into production and transport than the bag, and so the thinking is that it would be pointless if all that energy was wasted because the leaves were no good by the time they got to you (fine leaves are best when freshly picked and ideally would be grown by everyone at home)! In a bag the leaves can last for five days or maybe a week, out of the bag they last a day or maybe two.
Th salads also get put in a box with other veg that has dirt on it, because we minimise energy and water use by not washing everything (spuds, and other roots, etc) – so if not bagged they’d get covered in mud, which again may mean that they don’t get used by customers. A quick reminder here that you should always wash all veg before consuming. They are also protected against being crushed and thereby damaged by the air in the bag.
We have tried to put our salads in paper bags, and indeed most things we bag do go into paper, but wet bags fall apart and don’t protect from crushing.
We tried compostable plastic bags but until recently these were only available in very large quantities, which didn’t get used in time and therefore started to compost before they were used , which was an expensive waste of resources.
Finally – the plastic film is lighter than the equivalent paper bag and therefore takes less energy to move the same number of bags around, an issue that is often overlooked in the great bag debate.
So on balance we have made the call that it is better to ensure the leaves that take a lot of time and energy to grow and move, are not wasted, and on balance the impact of the very small amount of plastic is less than the otherwise wasted energy.
The punnets that the coriander and other small leaves sometimes come in are made of PET plastic, exactly the same as milk bottles (and most fizzy drink bottles) and are 100% recyclable, so in theory can be recycled again and again.
The boxes are a coated card, which makes them wipeable and reuseable, and we try to reuse each one as many times as possible. You can help by emptying them when they are delivered, wiping them out and folding them up to return to us. Please don’t store your veg in the boxes.
It’s not ideal and we are always looking for better ways to do things and welcome your input.