Devon veg box scheme turn their back on single-use plastic

Study finds eating from Riverford’s veg boxes can reduce plastic use by 77% when compared with supermarket equivalent, and commit to use home compostable materials by 2020.

Riverford Organic Farmers have spent months intensely researching more sustainable packaging options for their veg boxes due to frustration with the state of nationwide recycling policies.

A survey completed by over 10,000 customers has revealed that 82.5% of them compost at home, either on a compost heap or in a food waste bin. As a result, Riverford have committed to replace single-use plastic with home compostable packaging in their organic veg boxes by the end of 2020.

Riverford’s closed loop delivery model means that customers who can’t compost at home will be able to return all packaging with their reusable veg box to Riverford, who will then compost it on the farm and use the compost to grow their next crops.

A recent study against seven major supermarkets found that Riverford’s three most popular veg boxes contained 77% less plastic packaging than the comparable supermarket organic veg.  They predict that this would be closer to 90% in winter, when produce is typically less perishable. 

While their veg box plastic use is minimal, it is a necessary evil for the likes of salad, spinach and herbs, which would otherwise dehydrate in paper, causing food waste.

But with strong green credentials and as an employee-owned business who always put ethical values before profit, Riverford felt they needed to address even the minimal amount of plastic they use.  The outspoken farmer and entrepreneurial founder of Riverford, Guy Singh-Watson, felt there was no other option with the current recycling policies in place by government:

“It is impossible for citizens or companies to instigate good packaging practices while every local authority has a different approach to kerbside collection. We desperately need an intelligent, long-term, national policy on what materials will be recycled, composted and incinerated or landfilled.

“In the current vacuum, effort is being wasted on ill-informed company policies and headline-grabbing claims that will deliver little of value. To abandon policy to individual choices and market forces is an abdication of responsibility and a failure of government.”

The packaging will be made from renewable, sustainable materials and will break down within 12 weeks in a home compostable environment, and also in marine environments, should it accidently end up in the ocean.

“Although not a perfect solution, it is a huge improvement; we are doing our best in the world as we find it” says Guy.

Find our more at www.riverford.co.uk/packaging

Find out more about the supermarket packaging study at: Riverford.co.uk/less-plastic

View listing page for Riverford (vegbox delivery scheme)