Transporting fruits and vegetables becomes more sustainable

Since the beginning of February, Euro Pool System, logistics provider of reusable packaging in the European fresh supply chain, has started to replace millions of rigid, blue containers with the newest generation of green folding trays. By switching from rigid trays to folding trays, the number of freight vehicle trips required to transport empty trays will be significantly reduced. The newly added unique barcode on the tray also allows the transport of fruits and vegetables to be traced. The trays are managed by logistics service provider Euro Pool System. The company initiated this large-scale transition with the aim of making the transport of fruits and vegetables more sustainable. 20,000 fewer freight vehicle trips At most supermarkets in the Benelux countries, fruits and vegetables are kept in blue trays. The products are shipped from supplier to shop in these containers. The new trays can be collapsed after use, so they take up seven times less space on the return trip. “More empty trays can fit in the freight vehicle. As a result, we literally transport less air. That translates to 20,000 fewer freight
vehicle trips in the Benelux countries each year which, in turn, is an important step in making the transport of fruits and vegetables even more sustainable,” explains Dirk Vercammen, regional director at Euro Pool System.

Smart trays
The design of the folding tray is innovative, and on its way to becoming the new standard in the European logistics sector. A simple mechanism enables these sturdy trays to fold or unfold, making them particularly suitable for automated systems. The reusable trays have an average product lifespan of seven years. They are made of high-quality HDPE plastic and are even 100% recyclable. In addition to the fact that the green trays can be closed, they all feature a unique barcode as well. This enables the tray to be scanned upon arrival and departure, which in turn allows transport streams to tracked and optimised.
Replacement throughout the Benelux Euro Pool System’s blue containers have been the standard for transporting fruits and vegetables since 1992.
These are used for shipping between growers and sellers. After each rotation, the trays are washed and returned to the growers. In previous years, replacing cardboard or wooden trays was a sustainability improvement in the chain. Now the next step is being taken to improve sustainability even further. There are currently millions of rigid, blue trays in circulation, all of which will be collected and recycled. This enormous operation will be completed in mid-2022 and fits into Euro Pool System’s strategy of making the entire fresh food supply chain in the Benelux countries more sustainable. The organisation is working on this
with all its partners: from cooperatives and producers to wholesalers and retailers.

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