The produce industry - which uses tons of the nonrecyclable paraffin-coated cardboard boxes each year to ship fresh fruits and vegetables all over the world - is weighing a greener, wax-free option.
Lakeside Organic Gardens of Watsonville shipped a small load of iceberg lettuce to New Leaf Community Market in Santa Cruz using cardboard boxes lined with a sustainable alternative.
The agriculture industry has used a mix of cardboard boxes for nearly a decade, including wax-lined and those made of recyclable materials. Growers regularly ship produce in plastic containers or wood pallets that can be reused.
However, there are circumstances, roughly 5 percent of the time, which demand the use of a wax-coated box because of its strength and ability to handle the ice and water needed to keep perishables fresh over long distances such as trips to the East Coast.
Industry leaders say even that small percentage adds up to nearly 1.5 million tons of boxes getting hauled off to landfills each year.
Garcia of Lakeside Organic Gardens said his company spends at least $250,000 each year on dumping nonrecyclable vegetable boxes in the landfill.