U.S. Foodservice-Fort Mill replaced its clear plastic wrap, or shrink wrap, with rubber bands in all its food product deliveries. The company has reduced its use of shrink wrap in its Fort Mill operations by 11 percent and saved almost $8,000. U.S. Food Service is one of the largest food delivery companies with over 43,000 national, private label and signature brands and over 250,000 customers.
The rubber bands used are not the average type, according to Dan Harris, President of U.S. Foodservice-Fort Mill. “They are about 1/16 inch thick and can stretch to fit around a pallet up to 4 feet by 4 feet. While we can’t replace shrink wrap in every situation, the decrease in plastic wrap use has been significant, amounting to reductions of more than 100,000 pounds of wrap per year.”
(image from Aero Rubber company)
Although a simple item, rubber bands can be reused, but shrink wrap ends up as waste after one use. “Plastic shrink wrap is made from petrochemicals and can only be used once, but rubber bands are reusable, with an average life span of six months to a year,” said Harris.
U.S. Foodservice-Fort Mill used “tens of thousands of pounds of shrink wrap in our warehouse every year to secure products on pallets while stored on racks,” said Harris. The company “knew there had to be a more cost-effective way to manage this process… Replacing shrink wrap with rubber bands really helped bring our costs down and make our warehouse operations more environmentally friendly.”
U.S. Foodservice-Fort Mill is also finding ways to reduce energy use and eliminate waste. “These efforts have resulted in a number of innovations that demonstrate the Fort Mill division’s commitment to sustainability in three key areas: environment, products and community,” the company said in a statement.
Harris said that U.S. Foodservice-Fort Mill is “committed to sustainability in everything we do,” and the company is “ proud of our environmental leadership on behalf of our customers and the communities we serve.”
Food packaging is a significant contributor to municipal solid waste (MSW). According to a study, food packaging waste accounts for almost two-thirds of packaging waste by volume. Food packaging is about 50 percent of total packaging sales.
The switch to rubber bands also presents a lucrative business opportunity for companies such as Aero Rubber of Chicagoland and other manufacturers who, based on a quick internet search have jumped at the opportunity to satisfy newfound demand for jumbo rubber bands. More images from Aero below.