Plastic-Free Tomato Punnets Rolling Out Across Perth Supermarkets

Apr 14, 2022by Olivia - F&F

A cherry tomato wholesaler in Western Australia has developed a plastic-free tomato punnet! Let’s take a look at why this industry-first packaging alternative could potentially wipe out the need for single-use plastic produce containers in our supermarkets.

Plastic Wrapped TomatoesPlastic Wrapped Tomatoes

Image: Georgia Hargreaves / ABC Pilbara

Plastic-Wrapped Tomatoes Are Everywhere…

In your local supermarket, have you ever cringed at the amount of tomatoes that are wrapped in plastic? Whether it’s truss tomatoes laying on styrofoam and wrapped in cling film, or vine ripened tomatoes sitting in a sturdy plastic container which is wrapped in a plastic bag — wherever you look, there’s plastic-wrapped tomatoes. 

If you love cherry or grape tomatoes, you’ll know how frustrating it is to buy the flimsy single-use plastic ‘clamshell’ containers. Unlike larger tomato varieties, it’s difficult to find plastic-free loose cherry and grape tomatoes in supermarkets.

That’s why Wally Di Giosaffate — a tomato wholesaler in WA — decided to do something about it! Di Giosaffate, director of EPT Produce, worked with a local packaging company to produce an industry-first plastic-free tomato punnet.

Wally Di Giosaffate Cardboard Tomatoe PunnetsWally Di Giosaffate Cardboard Tomatoe Punnets

Image: Georgia Hargreaves / ABC Pilbara

Cardboard Tomato Punnets Introduced In Perth Supermarkets

Wally Di Giosaffate is on a mission to minimise plastic waste and lead the agricultural industry’s move away from plastic packaging! After 12 months of working on the prototype with a local packaging company, the sturdy cardboard punnets are finally being rolled out in supermarkets across Perth. 

"There's a lot of grape and cherry tomatoes sold in Australia, and that's a hell of a lot of plastic," Di Giosaffate told ABC News. "It's a good feeling to be one of the first to do this." 

The punnets currently cost 20c more than their plastic counterparts, but Di Giosaffate said that consumers were generally happy to foot the bill to protect the environment. They’re also manufactured in Perth, so the purchase of the cardboard punnets is helping the local economy!

Cherry Grape Tomatoes PackagingCherry Grape Tomatoes Packaging

Image: Georgia Hargreaves / ABC Pilbara

The First Of Its Kind In Australia!

The design and material is understood to be the first of its kind in Australia. The real challenge was to create a sturdy cardboard punnet that performed as well, if not better, than the plastic clamshell design.

The punnets are similar in shape and size to their plastic counterparts, and they feature three ventilation holes on the top to preserve the tomatoes. The punnets are made locally with 70% recycled cardboard — which, as a carbon-rich material — can be recycled or composted at the end of its life.

According to the general manager of Profile Packaging, Brett Kelly, “we thought we'd make it as similar as possible to the existing plastic [punnets], because it would be more accepted that way," he said. He also said they took design inspiration from similar creations over in Europe and the United States.

Green + Kind Organic Cotton Produce Bag 3 PackGreen + Kind Organic Cotton Produce Bag 3 Pack

France & Spain Are Banning All Plastic-Wrapped Produce

Switching out single-use plastic for cardboard seems like such a no-brainer! For some fruits and veggies, however, plastic packaging is unavoidable (for now) — "like strawberries, which is a soft fruit that bruises easily," Mr Kelly said. But, we wonder what more can be done to reduce plastic waste in Australia.

Recently, we wrote about France and Spain’s strong laws to minimise unnecessary plastic packaging on grocery items. From the beginning of 2022, France placed a ban on plastic packaging for more than 30 fruits and vegetables, with more to be added to the list (including cherry tomatoes) in 2023. 

By 2026, delicate foods (like berries) must be sold without plastic in France. Plus, In Spain, all plastic-wrapped produce that weighs less than 1.5 kg will be banned from January 2023.

Hopefully in the future, we’ll see these recycled cardboard punnets on all Australian supermarket shelves — not just for cherry and grape tomatoes, but for all smaller grocery items that don’t require plastic. ​​To avoid plastic-wrapped produce in the meantime, make sure you remember to take your Reusable Produce Bags with you when you shop! You can also try growing your own Cherry Tomatoes at home and avoid packaging altogether!

We love seeing examples of plastic-free innovation all around the world! If you do too, make sure you check out our Eco News and Zero Waste categories for more just stories like this.

France & Spain Set To Ban Plastic-Wrapped Fruits & Veggies

‘Loop’ Is Bringing Zero-Waste Shopping To Japan

India Set To Ban Single-Use Plastics By Mid-2022

More Articles