June, 26 2019
Cardboard Boxes Generate 70% less CO2 than Plastic Boxes
The use of corrugated cardboard boxes for the international transport of fruits and vegetables by road means a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 70% compared to reusable plastic boxes, according to a report prepared by the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) .
This Carbon Footprint study presented by the Institute for Sustainable Production (IPS) compares the greenhouse gas emissions of both types of packaging, the most used in fruit and vegetable exports from Spain to several European countries.
Spain is the leader in this type of trade in Europe: according to data from the Spanish Federation of Associations of Producers of Fruits, Vegetables, Flowers and Live Plants (FEPEX), it exports, only to France and Germany, 1,875 million annual tons of products On which the research has focused: tomato, eggplant, zucchini, melon, cucumber and pepper.
The director of the study and professor of Engineering Projects of the UPV, Salvador Capuz, explained that, if this transport “was made only with cardboard boxes, we would save 70,000 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to the withdrawal of 50,000 vehicles” and would result “More beneficial in the fight against climate change”.Capuz pointed out that the experts calculated the carbon footprint – total amount of CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases – “for the different scenarios” and “during the entire life cycle of the boxes, from obtaining raw materials to waste treatment. ”
Thus, the report indicates the different percentages of savings in each product according to the type of container used, in the case of corrugated cardboard boxes containing tomatoes for export to Germany, generates a difference of up to 69.22% less than CO2 emissions than reusable plastic boxes.
In addition to pointing to the tomato as the article that produces the least emissions, it determines that eggplant is “the most complicated vegetable to transport” and confirms that, the greater the distance, the greater the impact on the reduction of cardboard emissions.
The volume of products studied represents 15% of total fruit and vegetable exports, so the study states that if all the reusable plastic was replaced by corrugated cardboard, it would reduce the contamination at a level equivalent to 400,000 vehicles.
The president of the IPS, José Cabrera, has highlighted the “growing concern about the greenhouse effect” and the need to promote the philosophy of the three R’s -reduce, recycle and reuse- giving prominence to “a circular economy that ensures sustainability”. In that sense, the solution to climate change “goes through the use of raw materials that are recyclable, renewable and biodegradable, such as paper, wood and cardboard,” said Cabrera.