Episode 135: Creating Long-Term Sustainability With Produce Packaging

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Episode 135 Jeff Watkin Intro Quote

You might immediately think packaging for produce is a bad thing, but companies like Sev-Rend are manufacturing tags, labels and bags for produce that are environmentally sustainable and biodegradable. 

Jeff Watkin has been the Director of Marketing at Sev-Rend, a printing and converting manufacturer specializing in packaging for the produce industry. Jeff originally got his start in the retail side of produce and moved to the production and manufacturing side when he came aboard with the Sev-Rend family. Originally, Sev-Rend was the manufacturer of tags, labels and nettings for produce, like you’d see containing a bag of onions or potatoes.

“We recognize and understand it is a problem and we need to help and aid in the solution.” Jeff Watkin (20:06-20:10)

The overarching important part of packaging is profitability. Now, as a consumer, you probably think negatively about packaging when it comes to the environment, and then when the topic of profitability comes into play, you’re even more disappointed in the conversation. However, when it comes to packaging, you have to remember all the important facts it communicates to a shipper, retailer and consumer. For example, the recipes and nutritional facts you see on produce labels or the ability for you to decipher between an organic avocado and a conventional one.

Sev-Rend is passionate about creating sustainable packaging and very conscious of their manufacturing practices. Going back to profitability, this is key when it comes to making the world and our food supply system more sustainable. Why? If growers don’t have strong returns, they can’t invest in the things we know are important, such as improving practices for carbon neutrality, providing equitable treatment for all team members, and other critical areas for investing in sustainable practices.

“We have come up with a solution that we feel passionately may be a game changer for this.” Jeff Watkin (16:50-16:54)

Sev-Rend makes sure their practices are as sustainable as possible with a state of the art electrical and waste system, and using water based inks for printing. They’re also very focused on educating the consumer on how to recycle and reduce properly along with continuing research and development on product packaging. They don’t want to put a bandaid on issues, but rather find solutions that can be taken to a global scale long-term.

Episode 135 Jeff Watkin Quote

The company is in the midst of launching “Bio-Able Solutions” a line of products that lets current plastic structures fully degrade in almost any environment.  Most importantly, it leaves behind NO microplastics! 

Soon, this will become commercially available and already is FDA certified and Prop-67 compliant. With this type of plastic, if it ended up in a landfill, for example, the plastic would completely degrade in a 24 month long period… much shorter compared to the years it normally takes for plastics to break down. On top of that, if a product is already on the shelf for four months before the packaging is thrown out, the biodegrading process has already started, shortening that timeline.

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, we’ve seen a huge surge in packaging demand on the retail side of the produce industry over the past 8-10 months. Consumers are shopping less, however when they hit the store they’re buying more. Especially with our health concerns, there is even more of a stigma than usual against loose produce, meaning more shoppers are buying two, three or five pound bags of apples, oranges and other produce, which means more packaging.

“The sustainable side is here to stay.” – Jeff Watkin (23:18-23:19)

Sev-Rend is working hard with the other partners they work with to create packaging for produce companies. If packaging is going to be completely sustainable and able to break down in that 24 month period, everything on the package needs to use Bio-Able Solutions products. No one can control how anyone disposes of plastic waste, but by creating this new solution for biodegradable plastic and educating as much as possible, Sev-Rend is establishing a huge impact on sustainability long-term.

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.

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Episode 135: Creating Long-Term Sustainability With Produce Packaging With Jeff Watkin, Director Of Marketing For Sev-Rend

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Author: Lori Taylor

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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