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Re-usable crate that reduces waste and saves costs Recent trials by CHEP Australia in the use of re-usable

PW Chew Operations Manager Mark Bradshaw said the

plastic crates as an alternative to cardboard cartons for the

ability to cross-stack crates and the greater crate integrity

banana industry have returned positive results for growers

over cartons are huge bonuses for the banana industry.

and other members of the supply chain.

“The greater stability that is available in cross-stacking has

Early estimates show a 10 to 15% cost saving, while also

shown to be of great benefit to the integrity of the bananas.

reducing damage to the fruit when using crates compared

By the time they were ripened for retail, the initial trials

with cartons.

indicated that there was less rub marking, bruising due to

In early 2015, more than 200 crates were used to pack bananas at a trial site in northern NSW, with wholesaler

movement and neck damage in comparison to the same fruit packed in cartons from the same district,” Bradshaw said.

PW Chew managing transport, ripening and distribution.

“Cooling and ripening of the fruit was far more efficient

A combination of Lady Finger and Cavendish bananas were

too with the crates as you are not cooling the cardboard as

used in the trial. Fruit sizes ranged from 15 kg XL, 13 kg

well as the fruit. As a result, airflow, temperature and humidity

XL and 13 kg large.

are more consistent around the ripening room, which means we save nearly a day in ripening.” Pooled solutions provider CHEP Australia has been developing and trialling a re-usable plastic crate in collaboration with the Australian banana industry over the past three years. The current design features smooth walls and a waved base to minimise damage to bananas, improved ventilation and a footprint to suit Australian pallets with six crates per layer. The CHEP pooling system also allows for crates to be returned for washing — to an HACCP level if required — giving a hygienic solution for the industry and less overall wastage in cardboard. CHEP Australia Business Development Manager Nick Jones said, “The trial gave all parties involved an opportunity to learn from each other to find the best packing methodology, supply chain logistics and retail requirements. “The structural integrity of a plastic crate means that the weight bearing of a stacked pallet is through the crate, not a carton, so it won’t compress.” Compression damage to fruit from cartons is a major problem for the industry. Very early on in the trial, it became evident that the use of a slitted liner would be beneficial. The combination of plastic crates and liner bags allow for gases to flow through the bag, giving a more consistent ripening colour. “From a ripening perspective we found the crates delivered consistent half-colour ripening to levels between stage three and four, compared with cardboard. One retailer commented that if they could have consistent colour at stage 3.5, then they will be able to increase their rate of sales.” The next phase in the trials of the plastic crates will be to conduct studies in northern Queensland to assess the crate performance over longer distances to the major capital cities. CHEP Australia www.chep.com

12 Sustainability Matters - Oct/Nov 2015

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Sustainability Matters Oct/Nov 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Oct/Nov 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...