Box amnesty

Riverford VegboxesOur boxes are reused on average four times, are made from 95% recycled materials and are recycled at the end of their lives but, surprisingly, still account for 10% of our carbon footprint (similar to the lorries delivering the boxes). In the long run we may move to plastic boxes as a more durable and lower impact solution. Preliminary calculations suggest this would give a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions, but it would be a huge capital investment and many of you have expressed a strong resistance to plastic in the past. I sense a rise in pragmatism over dogmatism in environmental issues generally and wonder how you would feel about your veg being delivered in a deposit-carrying plastic crate; email your thoughts to

In the meantime we really need as many boxes back as possible, even if they are damaged (there is a much better chance of them being effectively recycled through us than through most municipal recycling schemes). The boxes cost between 54p and 81p but just as importantly this is the biggest thing you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your veg delivery. Please fold your box flat by pushing the ends in so the bottom goes down (not up into the box) and leave it out for your vegman or lady to collect. We are also happy to take back plastic bags but would rather you added paper punnets to your compostable or paper waste.

help us make your box even better

We really like to know what you think about your vegbox and every week we give you the chance to tell us about your most recent delivery in our box quality survey. Your comments help us keep on top of anything that isn’t up to scratch, let us know about anything that is particularly good and give us new ideas to make the boxes even better. It only takes a minute each week; please follow the link from your weekly box contents email or scroll down to the beetroot on the ‘this week’s box’ page of the website.

Guy Watson

14 responses to “Box amnesty

  1. Caroline Russell

    I really like the cardboard boxes and always return them. I’d be perfectly happy to pay a returnable deposit on the cardboard boxes if that helped you get them back.

  2. I agree with Caroline…love the cardboard but if we can make less of an impact with plastic boxes, ok…but why would you not apply a returnable deposit or even ‘credit’ on the next order for cardboard boxes too?

  3. Before I had an eco-cool safe, I would often forget to leave my box out before going to work. They would be put out eventually. Now after taking the contents out, I have somewhere to leave the box ready for the next week. I have no problem with the plastic if it is a better solution, but not sure this will solve the problem of people just forgetting to put the box out. Also not sure how the deposit would work when I have 2 box some weeks, and one others. And sometimes just order veg and extras, not a box. The one thing that is good, is that Riverford will do what is best. By the way, Gloucester is long way to come down for the field kitchen but it was well worth it as an end to a long weekend in dartmoor, the food and service was excellent.

  4. I like the cardboard because they do pack flat for storage and only occasionally do I forget to put them out. I agree with Caroline and Kym and would be happy to pay a deposit for the boxes. Clearly I need an eco-cool safe which would, as Dave points out, mean the boxes were always ready for picking up.

  5. I agree with all comments so far. I do occasionally forget to leave out the empties but always return them either the next or subsequent week. Plastic reusable crates are fine by me; it’s the plastic used every day by all sorts of outlets, only used once and then discarded carelessly which really bothers me. I am confident, having ordered from Riverford for some years now, that we really can rely on you to choose the best alternative. (Just PLEASE don’t start washing the carrots again!)

  6. Subject: Switching to deposit-carrying plastic crates

    Dear Riverford,

    Re: changing Veg Packaging as per this week’s newsletter, if you can show how this gives a reduction in C02 emissions (I am not knowledgeable about carbon footprint calculations but have studied physics and statistics to degree and diploma level respectively) we would favour this change always providing the deposit is reasonable and Riverford doesn’t overstretch itself in making the necessary investment. Riverford with current vegboxes is better than a weakened Riverford picked up for a song by someone who doesn’t understand or care about UK agriculture and market – shades of Cadbury!!

    A question on Ben’s Bit under sausages, new packaging…. etc. – please, what is the difference between ‘vacuum packed’ and ‘shrink wrapped’ – knowing both processes and their outcomes would help us to understand?

    Many thanks.

    M & S Longy
    Customer ID WIN06230

  7. Pingback: ¿Cual es más verde?, cartón o plástico |

  8. Plastic delivery box: OK
    Plastic veg bags: always used several times already, e.g. to store veg in fridge
    Plastic veg trays: can reuse for garden seeds

    NB. Recycling bin man only takes plastics numbered 1,2 or 3 (in the triangle symbol everything’s stamped with), so I am keen to restrict disposable packaging to those.
    You can help me by requesting it at source where packers are doing beansprouts, tomatoes, cress, etc.

  9. It is always rewarding to know that you are forever watching Riverford’s carbon footprint. Give me carboard over plastic anytime, but if it makes sense to use plastic – ok lets do it providing that it doesn’t cost too much and put Riverford in jeopardy.
    Thanks for all your good work.

  10. I too sometimes forget to leave my box out, but then our lovely delivery man quite often covers our box with another cardboard one, which if it’s hot is lovely, as it means that the veg don’t wilt in the sun, but not often necessary, as we’re usually about on delivery day to bring in.

    My only concern about a plastic box would be that it fold up as easily as the cardboard box, as storing a rigid box would be annoying, the cardboard can easily be hidden away.

  11. I love the cardboard boxes, and the way they fold flat, so useful to store until vege man comes again. I think you should charge for the box. Dont fancy plastic really, but if you have to then
    so be it. Its the vegetables that really interest me and they are wonderful

  12. Hi
    hate the idea of plastic crates, however you are in best position to decide which is best, environmentally
    just please, only consider environment, not cost as that would distort the ethics

  13. i have one of the Riverford outdoor food lockers which is fabulous but our box is usually left on the floor of the locker rather than on the shelf. As a result the cardboard gets a slightly soggy bottom when it’s wet. I have tried returning the potato bags for recycling but they are ususally left behind. I really don’t mind a slightly tatty delivery box if it makes them last 6 deliveries rather than 4 but i equally don’t mind if you move to plastic so long as it is truely sustainable and low carbon footprint.

  14. Where are the plastic boxes going to be made?
    Will they provide local jobs?
    Are they as sustainable as recycled card?
    One of the great things about buying organic veg is the overall feel good factor about fresh veg from the fields, the packaging is all part of that feeling. Plastic might be cheaper in the long run and more convienient, what else are you sacificing in the name of low carbon footprint and convienience? Have you thought about possibly using some chemicals to increase efficiency which would make things more convienent and also reduce your carbon footprint??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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