Berry specialist Driscoll’s has joined forces with Think Beyond Plastic to launch the inaugural Agricultural Plastics Innovation Challenge. The initiative aims to stimulate new recycling processes and develop alternatives to conventionally used field plastics.
Driscoll’s said that innovators, entrepreneurs, research institutes, start-ups and institutions were encouraged to submit applications for innovative solutions, and winners would have the opportunity to pilot their innovations in a commercial environment. The Agricultural Plastics Innovation Challenge is seen as an opportunity for berry producers to identify early-stage innovations that effectively collect, recycle, compost or convert waste to energy.
“The use of plastic in berry production has proven to have significant benefits, such as improved yield, reduced food loss and improved food safety, among other benefits. However, a series of environmental, community, and economic impacts remains since recycling is not a viable option for plastics that have contact with the soil, which represents a significant share of agricultural plastics,” a statement read.
To bring about meaningful and sustainable change, Driscoll’s said it had reached out to additional berry industry leaders, including Aneberries, California Giant, Gem Pak, Good Farms and Naturipe, to join the innovation challenge.
In early 2020, Driscoll’s and other players in the fresh berry industry made a joint pledge to achieve 100% recycle-ready packaging by 2025.