Driscoll's Partners with Think Beyond Plastic to Launch Inaugural Agricultural Plastics Innovation Challenge; Scott Komar and Joe Barsi Discuss
WATSONEVILLE, CA - Today’s innovations determine tomorrow’s sustainability, and suppliers are constantly enacting pivotal strategies to ensure their operations are eco-friendly. To do so, Driscoll’s has teamed up with Think Beyond Plastic to launch the inaugural Agricultural Plastics Innovation Challenge, an ambitious initiative that aims to stimulate new recycling processes and the development of alternatives to conventionally used field plastics.
“Driscoll’s is proud to be the corporate sponsor of The Agricultural Plastics Innovation Challenge, as it will support the entire industry in discovering scalable and economically viable solutions to improve the usage and recyclability of agricultural plastics,” said Scott Komar, Driscoll’s Senior Vice President of Global Research and Development. “We believe it is important to invest in ways to combat plastic waste and understand that as an industry, we all have a role to commit to broad and significant action toward more sustainable product offerings that are good for both people and the planet.”
The Agricultural Plastics Innovation Challenge is an opportunity for berry producers to identify early-stage innovations that effectively collect, recycle, compost, or convert waste to energy, a press release explained. The challenge encourages industry members such as entrepreneurs, research institutes, start-ups, and other innovators to submit applications for innovative solutions, and winners will have the chance to pilot their innovations in a commercial environment.
While the use of plastic in berry production has proven to have significant benefits, recycling is not a viable option for plastics that have contact with the soil, representing a large share of agricultural plastics, the release noted. To spark more change across the berry industry, Driscoll’s also tapped other leaders in the category to join the challenge, including Aneberries, California Giant Berry Farms, Gem Pak, Good Farms, and Naturipe.
“As an industry, we share a common goal to reduce the environmental impact of plastics,” said Joe Barsi, President of California Giant Berry Farms. “This challenges us to think beyond the clamshell and address hard-to-recycle plastic that is used in berry production. We owe it to our growing communities, growers, and consumers to be leaders and help find solutions.”
Driscoll’s involvement in this challenge reflects its existing efforts to reduce the environmental impact of plastic clamshells, as the company made a pledge in early 2020 to achieve 100 percent recycle-ready packaging by 2025.
For those looking to submit potential solutions, a dedicated Ag Plastics Innovation portal is open for submissions through November 30, 2021. Of the submissions, a panel of experts will select winners in each category that have demonstrated the capacity to scale their innovations into commercial production and deliver true environmental benefits.
Stay tuned as we keep a close watch on the upcoming innovations in the berry category and beyond.