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Packaging & Labeling

Alternatives to plastic in packaging?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  David Crabill 5 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Cottage Oven

    Here’s something for discussion: Some cities, states and even countries have been banning “single-use” plastic items, including some of the things that we, as cottage-food operations, use for packaging products and samples.

    In many cases, these bans focus upon plastic grocery bags and drinking straws, but some include fast-food packaging and other things that could, eventually, have an effect upon materials used in farmers markets and cottage-food operations.

    If that were to happen (or has already happened) in your area, what would you use to package your products and samples and how would you keep your products and samples fresh and not dried out for the full time from initial packaging all the way through until the end of the market day?

    As cottage-food operations, we are required to package our products before leaving the house and we are not allowed to keep products in containers and then put them into a bag or box at the market. The same goes for product samples that help use to sell our products. What other options are there for these purposes? Special “environmentally friendlier” plastics are relatively expensive and paper or cardboard products don’t maintain product freshness as well nor allow the products to be visible within the packaging.

    Have any of you researched this in depth and found anything affordable that works?

    Thanks, in advance, for any discussion, suggestions, and even specific alternative-packaging recommendations.


    David Crabill

    I can’t say that I’ve researched it, but I suspect that many of those laws (I live in CA, so I’ve seen the effects of some of them) would only apply to producers of a certain size.

    On top of that, I find that many cottage food producers choose to use the environmentally-friendly packaging regardless, to give their products a higher perceived value. But that would only work in some markets. Or they just do it for personal reasons, even if their margins are lower as a result.

    From what I’ve seen, there are viable alternative packaging options for pretty much every use case. The only question is cost. And I suspect that in the locations where the extra cost isn’t feasible, the likelihood of there being a law is much lower.

    Plus, if a law is requiring all food producers to use a certain type of packaging, then it bumps the costs for all producers, and therefore bumps the expected costs for consumers. The cottage food producer likely only needs to be willing to adjust their pricing accordingly.

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