Ian Anderson, president of CKF Inc., and Shannon Boase, director of new market development for the firm, display its award-winning compostable strawberry punnet at Feb. 7 at Fruit Logistica in Berlin. ( Tom Karst )

BERLIN — The 2019 Bronze Fruit Logistica Innovation Award was won by the top-sealable compostable, recyclable strawberry punnet from CKF Inc., Hansport, Nova Scotia. 

“We’ve been making molded fiber for 85 years,” said Ian Anderson, president of CKF.

“This is a newer development, a new lineup across with different shapes and sizes, different applications,” he said. 

“The Earthcycle (pack) is better quality,” he said, noting it is thermoformed and heated in place so it comes out very smooth. 

The premium Earthcycle pack is made with 80% hardwood fibers and 20% recycled corrugate material.

“It is a very environmentally friendly product,” he said. “Our sell is really less plastic,” he said, noting that the package has 95% to 98% less plastic than a clamshell. 

“If you want less plastic, this is an article you want to look at.”

“What’s interesting now is that we are the best new old thing,” said Shannon Boase, director of new market development for CKF. 

Boase started Earthcycle Packaging about 15 years ago and five years ago sold the business to CKF.

Product attributes

The sealable, compostable and recyclable wood pulp Earthpunnets hold 350-400 grams of strawberries. 

According to company officials, the wood pulp punnet not only provides a great deal of protection for the fruit and a view of the product, but also ensures a longer shelf life, without using plastic.

According to the company, Earthcycle pulp fiber packaging products help support brands and retailers that want to show their consumers that they care about the environment. 

The company said the Earthcycle trays are certified compostable and are suitable for home compost environments, and the trays are also recyclable with paper, renewable, FDA compliant for food grade packaging, and are suitable for high-moisture environments.

“I think one of the key innovations, and really what has catapulted this product, is the ability to heat seal it, because it allows you to stack and it gives visibility to the product,” Boase said. 

The pack can also match PET production speeds, and uses the same packing tools and equipment as PET clamshells.

Boase said the company has seen strong interest from marketers and been shipping to Europe for the past two years.

“Now North America is waking up,” she said, noting specific emerging demand from some organic marketers.

Anderson did not disclose the price of the Earthcycle punnet but said it does command a premium.