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Eco MV Partners with Murray’s and D’Agostino’s

Eco MV Partners with Murray’s and D’Agostino’s

Shoppers and Trends

June 26, 2011

Fresh food packaging at supermarkets has become one of the biggest eco-challenges facing retailers today. In fact, according to G4 Packaging, tens of millions of foam trays are used annually in supermarkets for packaging fresh food, and for every million used, more than two tons of polystyrene end up in a landfill.

Keeping food packaging out of landfills is a goal that Eco MV, a packaging and food service disposables company, is extremely committed to. Unlike petroleum-based Styrofoam and plastics, Eco MV’s plant-based products burn clean when incinerated or naturally break down when disposed of in a commercial compost facility or landfill.

Now, by partnering with D’Agostino’s Supermarkets and Murray’s Chicken, Eco MV is taking their 100% wheat stalk compostable, biodegradable meat and poultry trays to retailers in a big way. Launching in all 18 D’Agostino’s supermarkets in the New York City-Westchester area, the initiative will pair these trays with Murray’s Chicken who will be the first poultry producer to embrace the compostable, sustainably-produced, gluten-free trays. Collaborations with other retailers are a possibility in the future.

“We wanted to provide solutions to real problems,” says Eco MV founder Mark Martin. “We chose biodegradable meat trays after identifying grocery markets as a yet untapped market in need of alternatives. It is a large industry struggling with the issue of sustainable packaging on several levels and an industry whose decisions have an enormous impact ultimately on the planet.”

In New York City alone, 830,000 foam cafeteria trays are used and discarded daily in the city's lunch programs. Eco MV worked with a 125-store chain and found that it went through 32.5 million trays a year. Although polystyrene is inexpensive, the cost to the schools, cities and environment to dispose of these materials is significant and increasing, says Martin. Plastics and polystyrene remain indefinitely intact in landfills where they slowly leach toxins into the soil and groundwater.

Martin says that their packaging was eco engineered – keeping these unfortunate facts in mind. In other words, Eco MV products are designed from the end working backwards to the beginning. Thinking about their probable disposal helps the products to be engineered in a way that would allow them to be biodegradable when completed – a far more efficient green business technique than designing a product based on form alone and then hoping it turns out to be earth-friendly.

“Regardless of if an end user chooses to dispose of our products in a commercial compost facility, their backyard composter, a landfill, or an incinerator – or if it unfortunately ends up as litter – our products will be fully degraded back into the environment in 180 days or less. We have taken the burden off of the end user, or consumer, and placed it on our own shoulders. By designing the impact out of the product itself we can be sure that we are manufacturing a product that is part of a solution,” says Martin.

In order to show retailers like D’Agostino’s how partnering with them could be beneficial, Martin says they had to make a product that was both environmentally friendly and affordable, especially in this economy. Since cost issues are a very real issue, Eco MV showed the stores how to translate cost increases into increased consumer loyalty via in store campaigns, open up the ever-expanding green shopper markets, and avoid the coming and costly Extended Producer Responsibility (RPR) laws – laws that use financial incentives to encourage manufacturers and retailers to design environmentally-friendly products by holding producers liable for the costs of managing their products at end of life. Ultimately they needed cooperation from the manufacturer, the retailer and the consumer.

“Change happens from the inside out. It doesn't happen by screaming from the sidelines. But you have to get inside first,” says Martin.

Educating the consumer is a keystone in this process, he says. To this end, Eco MV constantly reads reports and studies on the sustainable packaging market and the trends of the green consumer. They do in-store surveys, try to interact with the consumer whenever practical through in-store demonstrations and are continuously updating their website with new and interactive education and information. Their business model is based on research, transparency and education.

“It is very important in this genre that the consumer trusts what you are telling them and believes in what you are doing. The green consumer wants to know that the businesses where they spend their money are independently changing how they conduct their daily business as well. So, it is important for us to communicate real information and to anticipate the green customer's thoughts for tomorrow – and to do all of this with clear and transparent information that can be verified,” says Martin. “When everyone leaves feeling like they are a winner, then real and permanent changes can take place.”