IFCO cuts carbon emissions by 94% for Alì Spa and OrtoRomi

written by IFCO SYSTEMS, 5th december 2023, in Referenčni primeri

Strategic partnership in Italy reduces carbon emissions by a staggering 94%. IFCO, the leading supplier of RPCs, Alì Spa, the traditional retailer with strong ties to local communities, and OrtoRomi, the future-oriented producer of fresh convenience products, explain how they got there together.

IFCO slashes carbon emissions for Italian partners by 94%

Innovative pooling flow reduces carbon emissions

The shelf life of fresh cut salads and leafy greens is incredibly short, so there’s no room for delays or glitches in the production or supply chain. What there is, however, is room for innovation and a commitment to sustainability, as the strategic three-way partnership between Alì Spa,the traditional Italian retailer with strong ties to local communities, OrtoRomi, the future-oriented producer of fresh salads and convenience products, and IFCO so clearly shows.

And innovation is what’s needed to bring the sustainability benefits that the fresh grocery supply chain needs. By carrying out a careful study of the pooling flow of empty IFCO RPCs from Alì Spa supermarkets back to the production sites run by OrtoRomi, the three partners were able to identify a huge opportunity to boost efficiency and sustainability in the fresh grocery supply chain.

By streamlining the pooling flow and recollection of IFCO RPCs between OrtoRomi and Alì Spa, related carbon emissions were reduced by almost 94%.

Close collaboration reduces carbon emissions and costs

Giuliano Canella, Commercial Director of Freschi Alì S.p.A., is impressed with the environmental savings. "Streamlining the transportation of OrtoRomi salads in IFCO RPCs to Alì Spa supermarkets and back not only reduces carbon emissions but also actively involves a crucial section of the value chain in the critical area of environmental sustainability," adds Canella. "We firmly believe that our dedication to sustainability plays a pivotal role in ensuring both food security and personal well-being."

Luca Pallaro, Logistics Director at the OrtoRomi Agricultural Cooperative, wholeheartedly agrees. "This is an important milestone for our company, but above all for the environment," says Pallaro.
"Together with Alì Spa and IFCO, we have established a valuable partnership that has allowed us to enhance logistical efficiency in the distribution chain of our products," continues Pallaro. "In particular, with the new pooling flow for IFCO RPCs, we have achieved a significant reduction in supply times and costs, which, in terms of sustainability, translates into a substantial decrease in carbon emissions."

Alessandra Fumagalli,Country General Manager Italy at IFCO, is particularly proud of the environmental and costs savings that the reusable packaging solution secures.

“The success of this initiative lies in the fact that all three companies believe in the value of environmental sustainability and in the power of partnership. This is a selfless collaboration to achieve a higher and shareable benefit for OrtoRomi, Alì Spa and the entire community.”

Alessandra Fumagalli

Country General Manager, Italy at IFCO

Reimagining the pooling flow of IFCO RPCs

In the traditional IFCO SmartCycle pooling system, IFCO collects used IFCO RPCs and processes them at the IFCO Service Centers for redistribution to suppliers for reuse. In contrast, in the new pooling flow for OrtoRomi and Alì Spa, OrtoRomi delivers the IFCO reusable packaging containers filled with pre-washed, bagged fresh salads to more than 110 Alì Spa stores across Veneto and Emilia Romagna in Italy and brings back empty IFCO RPCs to the OrtoRomi production sites on the way back, which optimizes the reverse logistics

This new pooling flow drastically reduces the number of OrtoRomi trucks on the road and cuts the recollection distances from 179km to just 23km, which slashes the related carbon emissions by a staggering 94%.

At the same time, IFCO ensures that OrtoRomi has a constant, regular and reliable supply of retail-ready reusable packaging containers to transport their high-quality fresh products to Alì Spa stores across the region.

HIgh-tech automation and sustainability are key for OrtoRomi

IFCO were able to implement the new pooling flow of used RPCs because of the unique nature of the OrtoRomi and Alì partnership.

OrtoRomi is an Agricultural Cooperative founded in Italy 1996. In the meantime, OrtoRomi has established itself as a high-tech supplier of fresh convenience salads and healthy products made from organic certified ingredients, including ready-to-eat salads and cold-pressed juices.

Currently, over 40 farms across Italy are proud members of the OrtoRomi cooperative and produce high-quality fresh raw materials that are processed at the OrtoRomi sites into ready-to-eat, healthy convenience products.

The company has a clear focus on sustainable farming and highly automated production and processing, having implemented, for instance, state-of-the-art irrigation techniques, green manure and modern pest management. What’s more, OrtoRomi has specialized in very short supply chains from farm to processing plant to retailer. Fresh cut salads are harvested, processed and shipped within 24 hours.

Strong community ties and sustainability matter for Alì Spa

One short supply chain leads to Alì Spa, one of northern Italy’s leading food retailers. Alì Spa has used IFCO RPCs since 2010. Since 1999, OrtoRomi has been shipping a wide range of pre-washed, bagged fresh salads to the Alì Spa retail stores in IFCO RPCs.

Renowned for its close ties to the local community, Alì Spa is known and loved for its customer-oriented approach. The popular supermarket chain has stores in even the smaller cities and is proud of its strong reputation for its clear focus on sustainable business practices. "For Alì Spa, environmental sustainability is a strategic commitment that permeates every aspect of our operations," confirms Canella.

"Sustainability runs through our operations, from the design of our supermarkets to community engagement through tree planting and environmental certification via third-party organizations," adds Canella. The sustainability certificates include ISO 14064-1, the international standard for quantifying and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, and ISO-14001, the international standard for improving environmental performance through more efficient use of resources and reduction of waste.

How did IFCO identify the potential to boost efficiency and sustainability?

Typically, most fresh products shipped in IFCO RPCs come into direct contact with the reusable packaging containers at some point. This is not the case for OrtoRomi’s pre-washed, bagged fresh salad for Alì Spa.
Instead, the OrtoRomi fresh grocery supply chain works as follows for Alì Spa:

  • The pre-washed, fresh cut salad is packaged directly on the OrtoRomi sites in 100% recyclable bags, which are manufactured using a high percentage of recycled material.
  • The IFCO RPCs do not come into direct contact with the fresh salad or leafy greens at any time during transportation.
  • The stringent sanitary measures normally carried out at the IFCO Service Centers are therefore not required after every delivery from the OrtoRomi farms to the Alì retail stores.

As a result, the IFCO RPCs can be reused many times before they need to pass through the sanitation process at the local IFCO Service Centers. This is why new pooling flow was implemented. The time-saving, resource-efficient process now benefits all three partners and the environment.

Protected and cool in IFCO RPCs

As the fresh products are perishable and have a short shelf life, it is crucial to maintain the cold chain throughout the supply chain. The pre-washed, fresh salad needs to be kept refrigerated. This is where the IFCO RPCs show more of their strengths.

The ventilated, protective design of the IFCO RPCs ensures that the fresh salad remains cool throughout transportation, which helps keep the fresh products crisp, thereby helping to extend the shelf life and reduce food waste. Both factors are important for Alì Spa and OrtoRomi.

Food safety is critical when transporting fresh salad

In addition to transporting fresh cut salad in IFCO RPCs, Alì Spa also uses the IFCO Black Life Lock for transporting other fresh fruit and vegetables, including watermelons.

In this case, these IFCO RPCs remain in the standard pooling flow of the IFCO SmartCycle and are sanitized at the IFCO Service Center after each use. When it comes to food safety, IFCO sets the highest standards in the industry. Used in over two billion shipments every year, , IFCO RPCs have never been identified as a source of a food-safety outbreak, not even once since IFCO RPCs have been in circulation since 1992. There is a very good reason for this success rate.

IFCO is committed to the highest food safety standards and has implemented highly automated sanitization and monitoring processes. Independent third parties audit the processes to ensure they are aligned with the highest global food safety, hygiene and industry standards. This level of hygiene is especially critical when transporting fresh, leafy greens in open packaging, as the in-depth IFCO white paper on food safety makes chillingly clear.

Why do the retailers and suppliers prefer IFCO RPCs?

As Fumagalli highlights, the IFCO SmartCycle is designed to make the fresh grocery supply chain sustainable. "We offer a sustainable service because circularity and reuse are at the core of our IFCO SmartCycle pooling system, which manages reusable packaging containers that are 100% recyclable at the end of their long life within our own closed loop."

IFCO takes full responsibility for the sanitization of the IFCO RPCs, as well as the condition of the reusable packaging. For instance, if any of the IFCO RPCs are damaged or broken, IFCO replaces the RPCs, and deals with the closed-loop recycling of the broken RPCs. This means that the retailers and producers have less of an administrative burden and are always certain to receive high-quality IFCO RPCs when they need them.

Environmental benefits are shared across the fresh grocery supply chain

OrtoRomi and Alì Spa are not the only suppliers and retailers to pass on the environmental benefits of the IFCO SmartCycle to their consumers and the planet.
"In the fiscal year 2023, together with our customers, we saved 627,978 metric tons CO2e emissions, which is the equivalent of circling the planet 132,437 times by car," explains Fumagalli.

"The collaboration with Alì Spa and Ortoromi has effectively enhanced the environmental benefits of our standard service, and, at the same time, this new approach supports us in our sustainability strategy to become a net zero business by 2040."

Our long-standing commitment to reduce carbon emissions

Ever since IFCO was founded in 1992, our strategy has always remained the same. We are committed to championing a circular economy model for the pooling of reusable packaging containers for the fresh grocery supply chain.

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We’re proud of our impact, however, we are constantly working on improving our services and portfolio. You can learn about our commitment to environmental, social and governance issues as well as about the impact of our SmartCycle pooling system in the IFCO ESG 2023 Report.

Download our ESG Report

If you are interested in learning more about how we can support you reach your sustainability goals with our unique circular business model, get in touch today!


Strinjam se, da mi podjetje IFCO pošilja sporočila in obdeluje moje osebne podatke. Občasno vas želimo kontaktirati, da bi vas obvestili o naših izdelkih in storitvah ter drugi vsebini, ki vas morda zanima. Če se strinjate, označite potrditveno polje. Soglasje lahko kadar koli umaknete. Več informacij o dejanski obdelavi vaših osebnih podatkov si lahko ogledate v našem pravilniku o zasebnosti. *

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Strinjam se, da mi podjetje IFCO pošilja sporočila in obdeluje moje osebne podatke. Občasno vas želimo kontaktirati, da bi vas obvestili o naših izdelkih in storitvah ter drugi vsebini, ki vas morda zanima. Če se strinjate, označite potrditveno polje. Soglasje lahko kadar koli umaknete. Več informacij o dejanski obdelavi vaših osebnih podatkov si lahko ogledate v našem pravilniku o zasebnosti. *
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