Boise Co-op Introduces More Eco-Friendly Deli Packaging 

click to enlarge delicontainersmagnum_courtesyboiseco-op.jpg

Courtesy Boise Co-op

As of January 2018, clamshell plastic containers can no longer be recycled in Boise—a conundrum that has weighed heavily on employees of the Boise Co-op, which relies on clamshells in its deli areas. After the sustainability minded grocery store phased out non-recyclable plastic water bottles in August 2018, Boise Co-op Marketing Manager Mo Valko told BW that deli containers were next on the list. This week, the Co-op announced that it was taking the first step toward making good on that promise.

"We have a BIG announcement to make!" the Co-op wrote on its Facebook page April 22. "You may have noticed some new containers showing up on our deli shelves. That’s because we are making a big packaging shift to non-petroleum based bioplastics, wherever possible."

The new containers have clear tops and opaque white bases made from plant-based plastic, and bear an Eco Products stamp on their lids. They're a greener alternative to petroleum-based plastics, but while they are technically compostable, they can't be put through the City of Boise's compost program, as its quick-turnover process doesn't allow enough time  for the containers (or any other compostable kitchenware) to break down.

Still, those with home compost piles using a more traditional, slower method will be able to return the new deli containers to nature. Meanwhile, the clear plastic tops, which are a No. 7 plastic, should be recyclable through the City of Boise's orange bag program, too. Valko said the Co-op is still waiting for official confirmation on that from the Department of Public Works.

"We did quite a bit of product testing and these performed really well," Valko said of the new containers, which the Co-op is sourcing through its local supplier. "We didn't want to pick something that was more environmentally friendly but then turned out to be, like, soggy, or compromised the quality of the food that people expect from us."

In addition to the replacement containers, the Co-op has introduced paper straws and reusable cups for its coffee, juice and smoothie selections in the past few months, all with the aim of reducing the store's carbon footprint. As for the changeover in the deli, Valko said it might be slow going for a while as the Co-op uses up its stockpile of clamshells.

"It's a transition process. We didn't want to just throw away our old stock, of course. We are not able to transition every single item and container in the deli right now but we are switching most of them, and so over the coming weeks you'll see more and more items show up in those containers," she said.
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