Carbon footprint challenge

A carbon footprint measures the impact of our actions on the environment – a chief symptom of climate change. R&G is committed to low impact environmental activity and has actively pursued a strategy of reducing its carbon footprint by 25%.

The company’s technical team has looked at modifying and reducing its fresh produce packaging as a way of R&G meeting its ambitious green goals.

‘Packaging is one of the main contributing factors to the carbon footprint of fresh produce imported from abroad,’ commented Mathew Prestwich, Managing Director at R&G.

‘We’re maximising our packaging efficiency by removing the gussets, explained Mathew. ‘If you remove the gusset from the side of the bag, you reduce the amount of film by 80mm, without any adverse impact to the contents. It’s prudent housekeeping for us and on a wider stage it’s an environmentally sound practice.’

‘It also minimises any air leaks through bag seals, maximising the freshness’ added Mathew.

The team has also looked at the density of the packaging, reducing the film itself from 35 microns to 30, and hopefully 25 microns by 2012. When one micron equates to one thousandth of a millimetre, it may not sound like much, but the excess packaging soon adds up.

Mathew explains: ‘When you think about it, plastic packaging derives from the petrochemical industry, which uses substantial energy in the manufacturing process. A reduction in packaging means it takes less energy to produce, which in turn reduces the carbon overhead,’ he summarised.

Amjad Hussain, R&G’s Supply Chain Manager has been researching agricultural initiatives as a way of reducing R&G’s carbon footprint. ‘Packaging is a major part of the solution; other ways we’re looking at minimising our carbon overhead is by lower water usage, allowing the crops to grow for longer, thus increasing the length of the product and getting bigger yields per acre of crop.’

In summary, Amjad explained: ‘As a customer you don’t necessarily spend much time looking at the packaging of fresh produce, or the cultivation techniques, but there’s a lot of technical competence and thought that goes into making sure the herbs are at their freshest – in a way that impacts on the environment as little as possible.’