By their nature, mushrooms are a highly sustainable product, but many grower-shippers are taking their desire to be environmentally friendly to an even higher level.

Fred Recchiuti, general manager at Basciani Mushroom Farms, Avondale, Pa., said he launched an initiative in January to persuade customers to switch from white boxes to plain craft boxes.

The chlorine that is used to make the boxes white can end up in streams and other water sources, and the dioxins it contains can cause cancer, he said.

Most of the company’s customers have embraced the idea, he said.

Phillips Mushroom Farms, Kennett Square, Pa., is trying to convert all of its retail packaging to recycled PET material, said Kevin Donovan, national sales manager.

Getting the materials at the right price has been the problem so far, he said, but the company is doing more and more of it.

The program should be less costly as the price of mushrooms more accurately reflects grower costs, he said, especially with organic product.

The company’s new white mushroom facility is 20% more energy efficient than a conventional mushrooms house, he said.

To-Jo Mushrooms in Avondale, Pa., also is a sustainable operation, said Paul Frederic, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

The company is switching to fully recyclable mushroom tills that are made from recyclable materials.

At To-Jo Mushrooms, “All the raw materials that we utilize to produce compost are byproducts,” Frederic said.

But while To-Jo’s customers may have concerns about sustainability in the back of their minds, it’s usually not a deal breaker in determining whom they’ll do business with, he said.