March 8, 2019

New Zealand apple company launching biodegradable cardboard packaging

Rockit Global Ltd., a Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, apple company is launching fully recyclable and biodegradable cardboard packaging into New Zealand supermarkets and food stores.

The miniature Rockit apples are sold in packs. Until last year, these packs were made from recyclable PET plastic, considered optimal for portability and for protecting the fruit from deterioration.

In February 2018, a Rockit Global orchard and packing facility was visited by members of the International Fruit Tree Association.

Rockit-ApplesAustin Mortimer, Rockit Global CEO, said while the recyclable plastic tube was successful, the organization was aware of New Zealanders’ commitment to a plastic-free future. “We wanted to support it,” he said. “Like so many Kiwis, members of the Rockit Global team recognize that there is enough plastic in the world already and if there is an alternative material that can fulfill the purpose of packaging, which is to reduce food wastage, we should embrace it.”

Rockit Global’s alternative is a kraft cardboard pack that it says maintains the benefits of convenience and portability, while being more environmentally sustainable. 

“We’re really excited about it,” Mortimer said. “Our cardboard is sourced from sustainably managed forests and is PEFC (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) approved. It’s been locally designed and produced and is 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable. With this change for the better, we feel both proud and pleased to be at the leading edge of new developments in a fast-changing global packaging environment.”

Rockit Global also recognizes that this is just one step in a program of change.

“We believe that we have an absolute responsibility to do no harm to the environment as we grow the business,” Mortimer said. “This is a long journey and there is still global uncertainty around the trade-off between food wastage and packaging but we’re determined to stay fully abreast of developments — particularly in the space of bioplastics as we see real potential here — so that we’re ready to act swiftly when the ideal solution becomes available.”

For now, the cardboard packaging will be on shelves in New Zealand, Australia and Europe with the rest of the world in the company’s sights “once we’ve undergone testing to ensure we can meet global food safety, durability and export standards.”

Rockit apples are distributed many international markets – including the U.S,. China, Japan and the Middle East.

The company’s goal is to continue to meet the ever-growing demand for 100 percent natural whole foods without additives or preservatives — in the U.S., that means Rockit apples are available alongside crisps, sweets and protein bars at places like Disneyland. 

Testing conducted by Plant and Food New Zealand has shown that Rockit apples are nutritional, with higher levels of many essential vitamins and minerals than ordinary apples. On a per serving basis, Rockit apples have 65 percent more potassium, 19 percent more energy and 10 percent more fibre than the average apple, the company said.


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