Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Poultry plant converts to recyclable, wax-alternative boxes for modified atmosphere wholesale packaging

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Poultry plant converts to recyclable, wax-alternative boxes for modified atmosphere wholesale packaging
Successful trials increase recyclability and save water by replacement of non-recyclable boards and ice packaging.
In Use – Implemented during 2010 by Mountaire Farms, the largest poultry plant in the US.

Recycled content/recyclability, Water Usage

Product Categories

Relevant Materials
Cartonboard, Corrugated

Relevant Packaging Formats
Corrugated box/case

Supply Chain Phase
Packing, Storage, Transportation


Mountaire Farms, the largest poultry plant in the US has converted to using recyclable, wax-alternative boxes for their modified atmosphere wholesale transfer packaging, thereby reducing costs and environmental impact, and assisting its customers in cost-effectively meeting their environmental goals. The containers are supplied by Interstate Container
In March 2009, Interstate and Mountaire Farms first announced its plans to conduct trials of recyclable modified atmosphere packaging through Hunt’s Point, the world’s largest food distribution centres. These trials were part of the Global Green Coalition for Resource Recovery initiative to achieve 100% recyclable wholesale transfer packaging through the facility. Trials began pallet by pallet through Hunt’s Point and progressed to the truck load, and finally a two week test where Mountaire product shipped solely in the Fibre Box Association (FBA)-Certified recyclable boxes.
The boxes successfully stood up to the extremely wet and challenging environment. Upon successful completion of the pilot in September 2009, Mountaire announced its plan to not only convert its existing modified atmosphere packaging to recyclable boxes but also to convert its ice packed product to modified atmosphere packaging to allow for a full transition of its entire product line to recyclable boxes. The full conversion of Mountaire’s first facility and the largest poultry plant in the US, located in Lumber Bridge, NC, was completed in January 2010.
The fibre can now be recovered instead of heading to landfill where wax boxes are discarded. 
The switch to the FBA-certified recyclable packaging is only one component of the sustainable packaging transition. The switch in packaging methods from ice packed poultry to modified atmosphere packaging will also result in significant water and energy savings. The box size was reduced, all wax was eliminated from the box, reducing the use of both corrugated and petroleum products.

Potential Benefits

The partners estimate that if all of the newly designed boxes were recycled, the greenhouse gas benefit from source reduction and recycling the boxes would be 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. In addition, the switch from ice-packed poultry to modified atmosphere packaging is estimated to save millions of gallons of water annually. Combined these innovations also improve efficiency, streamline operations, and provide a safer work environment.
It is also estimated that 1.5 million tons of non-recyclable wax-coated corrugated boxes are discarded in the U.S. each year.  If all coated corrugated boxes were designed for recycling and recycled, greenhouse gas savings of 5 million mtCO2e (equivalent to removing from one million passenger vehicles from the road) would be realised, and U.S. grocers and restaurateurs could save $63M annually in avoided disposal fees.

Intellectual Property

The containers are manufactured and supplied by Interstate Container, a division of Interstate Resources.

Consultant View

Through dedication and perseverance, Interstate Container and Mountaire have developed a cost-effective, high-performing packaging solution that enhances service to its customers while reducing environmental impact.
This innovation has the potential to influence the design of transfer packaging for all types of poultry, meat, produce and seafood delivered to grocers and restaurants.   

Contacts and Further Information

Company details:
Interstate Resources
1300 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1075
Arlington, Virginia, 22209
Tel: 1-703-243-3355

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