“The JustGrey transport trays meet the retailer’s demand for detectable trays”

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“Retailers increasingly demand detectable transport trays,” says Arie den Hertog, Teamlead Product Management at Modiform. Modiform is a Dutch company that provides solutions in cultivation, transport, and packaging systems for the horticulture supply chain based on recycled raw materials. In the light of this ongoing development, Modiform now uses two standards of raw materials in their transport tray range: PS Pristine and PS JustGrey. In this article Arie tells us more about the importance of material choice for transport trays and gives insight in Modiform’s product policy.

From black to Pristine
“Polystyrene is the standard material for transport trays in the horticulture sector. This material has been very popular thanks to its good price-quality ratio,” Arie states. For many years this material has been used by Modiform in a black color with a gloss layer as a standard. In 2022, the company went a step further and decided to no longer use dye additive to give their trays an evenly black color. This led to the introduction of a new standard for transport trays: Pristine.

Arie comments: “Pristine stands for pure and unspoilt. Namely, Pristine transport trays are made of 100% recycled polystyrene, and don’t contain any new plastic or dye additives. For this reason, the color of the transport trays is determined by the recycled material. In other words, the color of the tray may vary. However, we never got any negative feedback regarding the color of the trays. Customers find this a logical step, they understand the importance of recycling and sustainability.

Today, all our transport trays are mainly made of Pristine. Pristine is a sustainable choice when PS trays are collected together and offered to a recycler to start their second life. There are great examples in the market where PS is used as standard. Normpack trays, which is the standard for trays to be used at the auction Royal FloraHolland, are only made of polystyrene material in order to get the best recycling rate. TrayC, a return system set up by Landgard and Modiform, is also solely based on polystyrene, and these trays are often used multiple times. These are fantastic examples of closing the material loop by using polystyrene as mono-material.”

JustGrey – detectable trays
Nevertheless, for Modiform producing recycled material is not enough: “Modiform seeks to use as much recycled material as possible. Our ambition is to close the material loop as much as we can. We believe that we have the responsibility to make our customers aware of sustainability. We found that retailers discard their transport trays and add them to their other plastic waste. Plastic trays that are added to this mixed-plastic waste can only be recycled when they are Near Infra Red (nIR) detectable. The nIR detection system is often used by recyclers to detect different type of plastic, so they can be sorted and recycled. Pristine trays are too dark to be detected by this system. If the plastic cannot be detected, it is very likely to end up in the incinerator,” Arie explains.

For this reason, Modiform introduced the PS JustGrey material, which has a light-grey polystyrene color. Owing to this light-grey color, JustGrey is nIR detectable and carries the Cyclos certification. “This certificate shows that this material is entirely recyclable. In this way, recyclers can detect the trays from mixed-plastics so that they can be recycled. PS JustGrey not only contributes to our ambition to close the material loop, it also meets retailers’ demand for recyclable trays. We also find that retailers are increasingly concerned with sustainability. We frequently have growers and retailers asking us to show our Cyclos certificate,” Arie elaborates.

Arie den Hertog with the transport tray range

ecoExpert – transport trays made from recycled cardboard
Aside from plastic trays, Modiform also offers various transport trays made of pressed pulp. These trays are part of the ecoExpert brand, which includes transport trays, pulp punnets, carriers, and pots. Arie says: “ecoExpert trays are made of 100% recycled waste cardboard and can be disposed of with any paper waste for recycling. For every solution we seek the best material choice, which can be PS for transport trays, PET for packs, PP for pots or ecoExpert products made of recycled cardboard.”

Modiform is mainly active in Western Europe, however Arie highlights that their products are equally available in other parts of the world. At the GreenTech in Amsterdam, Modiform will present PS Pristine, JustGrey and ecoExpert transport trays. “This event is an opportunity to give growers and retailers insight in the available materials, and the way in which Pristine and JustGrey contribute to closing the material loop. Of course, we don’t always know how retailers process our trays, but we can make them aware of the possibilities and the latest developments. We are curious to learn which future possibilities will emerge for the recycling of our trays,” Arie concludes.

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