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IFCO Expanding Scope of Study on Environmental Impact of Reusable Plastic Containers

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New research to compare human and eco-toxicity impacts of RPCs and corrugated 

TAMPA, February 19, 2014 IFCO SYSTEMS, the global leader in Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) for fresh products, today announced the expansion of its life cycle assessment research comparing RPCs and display-ready corrugated boxes used to ship fresh produce to grocery retailers. The new study, expected to be published in May, will add human and eco-toxicity impact categories to the areas currently reviewed, which include solid waste, energy demand, water usage and more. The report is being produced by Franklin Associates, a Division of ERG, a leading consulting company specializing in life cycle assessment and solid waste management.

“We fully expect the life cycle analysis of human and eco-toxicity impacts for RPCs to add a layer of information to the analysis. said Hillary Femal, Vice President of Global Marketing for IFCO. “These two impact categories were not evaluated in the life cycle assessment released in 2013 due to the lack of scientific consensus regarding methodology in early 2012 when the study was scoped. However, we would like to expand the analysis to examine these aspects at a relative level using the most widely accepted methodologies and, of course, a thorough peer review of the results.”

IFCO’s previously released study confirmed RPCs as a sustainable packaging option, revealing that the IFCO solution generates 82% less solid waste, consumes 92% less water, requires 49% lower energy demand, and lowers ozone depletion by 76% for a weighted average of 10 top produce commodities. The study also shows that for every 1,000 pounds of produce shipped in IFCO RPCs instead of display-ready corrugated boxes, growers and retailers save approximately 13 pounds of solid waste, 700,000 British Thermal Unit (BTU) of energy (equivalent to five gallons of diesel) and 360 gallons of water.

“While the comparisons of human- and eco-toxicity impacts are not as certain as comparative measures for solid waste reduction and other key sustainability indicators, there have recently been updates to methods which bring more scientific consensus in these areas. As a result, we are reviewing these categories to assess the relative contributions which the life cycle of RPCs and corrugated containers have to human and ecosystem toxicity,” said Rebe Feraldi, Franklin Associates’ certified life cycle analysis practitioner and primary analyst for the project.
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