Plastic under the spotlight in SAFE move to “environmental sustainability”.

With a focus on every aspect of ethical and environmentally sustainable farming, SAFE managers are critically aware of the use of plastic in every phase of their business – from farming to harvesting, packing and delivery – to end users.

“Plastic is increasingly under the microscope globally”, says SAFE Marketing and Sales Director (Export), Wibo van den Ende. “And while we acknowledge the role plastic plays in allowing us to farm efficiently and sustainably, we are aware of the need to reduce the use of single-use plastic – particularly in end-user packaging.”

The plastics industry is a vibrant sector that facilitates resource efficiency and enhances climate protection, according to PlasticsEurope (PE),a leading pan-European association that represents plastics manufacturers in the European plastics industry.

“Thanks to the use of different plastics in agriculture, water can be saved and crops can even be planted in deserted areas. Plastic irrigation pipes prevent waste of water and nutrients, rainwater can be retained in reservoirs built with plastics, and the use of pesticides can be reduced by keeping crops in a closed space such as a greenhouse or, for mulching, under a plastic film,” says PlasticEurope.

“Moreover, the emissions of pesticides in the atmosphere are reduced as they remain fixed on the plastic cover. And at the end of their life cycle, agricultural plastics such as greenhouse covers are recycled. ”

According to Dries Van Rooyen, SAFE’s General Manager of Farming Operations who has overall responsibility for the successful running of SAFE’s’ entire farming operation, SAFE has sensed a change in mood about single-use plastic, in for example the “nets” in which citrus is sold by some retailers.

“As with our entire operation, we are fully prepared to comply with demands from buyers,” said Dries. “Already the cartons in which SAFE citrus and grapes are packed and shipped are manufactured from biodegradable cardboard, so they do not represent a problem to our markets.”

“There are, however, obviously areas of our operations were we simply cannot do without plastic, such as for irrigation and crop netting. But where we can reduce our use of single-use plastic, and we are certainly doing so.”


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