WATSONVILLE — In 1987, Watsonville-based Sambrailo Packaging introduced the first-ever plastic clamshell box for fresh berry storage. And for decades, that plastic packaging was used widely across North America.
Now, Sambrailo is once again attempting to transform the industry — this time by going back to the basics.
In 2017, the company launched ReadyCycle, a line of 100 percent recyclable packaging for agricultural growers and retailers.
“I think people are ready for change,” said Sara Lozano, marketing manager at Sambrailo. “Earth has a huge plastic problem, and consumers are starting to realize the importance of addressing the issue.”
Last week, ReadyCycle was featured in an article by the Plastic Pollution Coalition, an environmental organization that aims to combat plastic pollution worldwide.
Sambrailo had reached out to the organization, which is working with various companies across the globe, a couple of months ago through social media.
“They were really excited,” Lozano said. “They were like, ‘It’s plastic-free produce.’”
ReadyCycle is made from corrugated cardboard, and does not include any sort of wax, labeling or plastic coatings — things that have prevented a lot of other cardboard packaging from being 100 percent recyclable.
Local farmers such as JSM Organics’ Javier Zamora and Thomas Broz of Live Earth Farm began embracing the product not long after it was released last spring. It has since been adopted by companies across the Western U.S. and Mexico.
Still, Lozano admits it’s been a challenge getting certain people on board due to the higher cost. The common green, plastic mesh containers are cheaper and what people are used to.
“People are understandably hesitant,” Lozano said. “But we want them to realize it’s good to get out of your comfort zone. Especially if it’s beneficial to the bigger picture.”
Sambrailo plans to stay in contact with the Plastic Pollution Coalition and continue its work with other organizations such as Oceans International and The Last Plastic Straw, as well as locally with city governments across the Monterey Bay. They hope to help get education into classrooms about sustainability.
“This isn’t just about Sambrailo, or even agriculture,” Lozano said. “It’s an issue that goes beyond any one industry. It’s about recognizing the need for change, and believing it’s possible.”
For information about ReadyCycle, visit sambrailo.com. For information on plastic pollution, visit plasticpollutioncoalition.org.