( Courtesy Jac. Vandenberg )

Produce importer Jac. Vandenberg, Yonkers, N.Y., is replacing citrus bag plastic netting with a compostable netting made from beech tree pulp.

Austrian company VPZ makes the netting from culled trees, according to a news release.

Jac. Vandenberg’s Sunrays brand mandarins and BAGU brand oranges will be available in the biodegradable packaging starting in June. In 2009, the company started packing the Sunrays in plastic-free boxes, certified under the Plastic Free Trust Mark.

“We are always looking at the packaging we currently use to try and change it so we can get the most environmentally sustainable packaging that we can,” John Paap, brand manager at Jac. Vandenberg, said in the release. “While we’d love to eliminate packaging altogether, it does play a significant role in ensuring product quality as the product is distributed through the supply chain.”

The beech-tree netting has earned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreffered designation, with a manufacturing process that results in 60% lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard nets, according to the release.

The Jac. Vandenberg net bags have just 1% of the plastic of standard bags.

“There is a plastic coating on the tag affixed to the netting,” Paap said in the release. “However, we are actively exploring an organic, plastic-free solution to the tag which we hope to have available before next summer.”