The environment-friendly tray


Today’s packages have been given «a voice» thanks to the QR code;  they create emotions for consumers and lead to choices which are ethical and environment-friendly. This is a result of the effort by Ghelfi Ondulati, which has just launched a totally compostable tray for fruit. More specifically, it is a paper container, without any glues added, which can be used then disposed of as organic waste.

 In just about ten years, the digital era has changed our lives, users’ approach to purchases and the way each of us interacts through social media. Even a simple apple is expected to give something more, for example to be exciting, no longer being “just” healthy food. This revolution was bound to involve also the packaging industry, as shown by the products from the Italian company Ghelfi Ondulati. The new compostable trays launched by the company provide distinctive solutions because they are environment friendly and reusable. Moreover, thanks to the QR code technology, this type of packaging is even able to «talk» with the consumer, who – today more than ever – is looking for a personalized product.

«This time we have taken on a really challenging task: to make the world a better place. After working on it for one year, we are proud to introduce on the market the first totally compostable fruit tray», says Giuseppe Ghelfi, sales manager at Ghelfi Ondulati SpA. «Our customers and the consumers are increasingly discerning as regards issues related to environmental protection. In particular, I wish to thank Biopap, Consorzio Melinda SCA and Claudio Mazzini from Coop Italia who suggested this challenge to us one year ago».


How do compostable trays fit within your range?

«We decided to expand our offer of corrugated board trays with one which would be even more in line with the paradigms of circular economy. This new tray is a result of the partnership between us and the Italian company Biopap, a key player in the production of biodegradable and compostable trays. Our tray is totally made of paper, without any glues; a specific feature of this tray is that – before being disposed of as organic waste – it can be reused in the microwave or in a traditional oven, to heat any type of food».


What are its main characteristics?

«It is a tray made of cellulose paperboard with a coating barrier which makes it suitable for direct food contact; it is resistant to fats and humidity, contains no chlorine compounds, fluoride, heavy metals or waxes. Just as important is the absence of coupling or extrusion using plastic films, for example PP/PET. As for the characteristics of the material, it is suitable for heat filling, resists prolonged contact up to 70°C for a maximum of two hours, in the microwave oven up to 100°C for 15 minutes maximum, and in the traditional oven up to 160°C for five minutes maximum».


Which developments do you envisage for this type of product?

«These new corrugated board trays have been available on the market since mid-May with the Melinda Renetta apple, which was its first use for fruit and vegetables. Through a dedicated website set up by Melinda, consumers will be able to describe how they reuse them. The tray itself can be reused in a large variety of ways: it can be used to store food in the fridge after cooking, then to reheat it in the microwave or in a traditional oven; it can serve as water or food bowl for our pets; it may be used as a flower pot, which can then be planted directly in our garden».


Another innovation is the use of QR codes on punnets: what are the advantages of this technology?

«Our QR codes – in this instance there are two unique QR codes – in one case refer back to the recipe site where you can find many ways to cook apples; the other one is linked to the reuse site where consumers can post the best ways they have found to reuse this new tray. In this case the technological advantage consists in being able to return to the customer, in real time, information related to the product».


Could you give us some examples of applications already implemented?

«Our unique QR codes – which are always different and which we are able to produce using the HP water-based digital printing technology – open up a whole world of possibilities and freedom: we can follow the product individually, make it unique or provide customised information; we can manage prize contests, or – always in compliance with GDPR – use it to see whether a final user likes an apple while eating it, to understand what kind of apple they would like tomorrow, and so on. We have produced many applications with our customers which range from product traceability, to tracking the individual tray, from the producer to the final consumer who is able to know by whom the produce was picked, where and when».


What do your customers think about the possibilities offered by the QR Code? Are there any criticalities to consider?

«To my mind, large groups are enthusiastic about this possibility, as they are about others offered by digital printing: the role of packaging, through technological innovation, is changing. Today final customers can be profiled when they make a purchase and pampered through targeted campaigns or brand reputation actions. You can help make your customers’ dream come true».


Also in this case, what are your goals for the futureo?

«In ten years’ time we will not be selling trays or cartons, but services. Already today, an integral part of our product consists in variable data and analysis of the latter, in our opinion this can help in the search for solutions as regards materials and the study of data available from packaging, to reduce waste to a minimum and try to improve the future for us and our children».


Ghelfi Ondulati was Platinum Sponsor at the international Cherry Symposium,a world-scale event dedicated to the cherry tree supply chain which took place in the second half of May in the quaint setting of the Rocca di Vignola. Corrugated board – as shown by Ghelfi – can provide a tool also in the service of the cherry, which can be enhanced through a packaging whose standard requirements are increasingly high. More specifically, apart from more traditional solutions, Ghelfi has introduced smaller packaging, which is easy to transport, tailored to consumer expectations.

Moreover, in this case the QR code brings added value, for example by making each package traceable and allowing for ad hoc marketing instruments: each of the 700 producers of the celebrated Vignola cherries is able to “talk” directly to the consumer through a unique code printed on every box of cherries. This is possible thanks to the HP PageWide Web Press T1170S digital printer, which makes it possible to print a unified code on each box and to customise it. This means that each box tells the consumer about itself and its content: using an App created by Ghelfi, each individual producer can add to each package several details, for example name of the producer, place, date of harvesting, and so on. Consumers are able to view this product information though a dedicated Web page, with the possibility of giving feedback, finding recipes and signing up for contests.

Also in the case of Candonga Strawberries, the marketing approach in 2019 is characterised by the QR code on the boxes: traceability allows consumers to find out about the producer, know more about the history of the member farm and about the territory where this strawberry variety is produced. The printed packaging for one of the Club members, La Compagnia delle Primizie, includes a reference to the flash mob event dedicated to strawberries from Basilicata and to Matera, European capital of culture in 2019. The video footage is printed on the boxes to show the event directly and create packs which are unique and all different one from the other.