Box amnesty

Environmentally, there is no such thing as good packaging; only some that is less bad. Recycling can help but it is a poor substitute for reuse or, even better, not using the stuff in the first place. So why do we use any at all? Some leafy veg, like spinach and lettuce, dehydrates so quickly that not using bags results in pointless waste. Similarly, tomatoes and mushrooms need protection and potato bags retain the mud and exclude light to prevent greening. We have done a lot of work with Exeter University to find the ‘least worst’ option for what to use, with some surprising and counterintuitive results. You can read more at

The veg boxes themselves are designed to be reused many times. If they were all returned we would get around 10 trips per box, but we currently only achieve four because so many are not. If you can reuse them, we are happy. But if not, we want them back, even if they are damaged. If the boxes were all returned, we could more than halve their environmental impact. This is what we would like you to do:

  • Veg boxes: fold flat by pushing the ends in so the bottom goes down (not up into the box) and leave out for collection. This is the single biggest thing you can do to help.
  • Plastic bags: leave out in your veg box for us to recycle.
  • Paper bags and punnets: reuse as seed trays, lunch bags, compost bin liners etc, then compost, or put out for recycling with your paper (if clean).
  • Meat box packaging: we’d like the box, gel packs and insulated liner back for reuse. Anything that has touched the meat must go out with your rubbish.
  • Plastic punnets: we use few of these so do not have a recycling route. Please put them out with the rest of your rubbish.

Thanks for your help.

Guy Watson

7 responses to “Box amnesty

  1. Plastic bags – we recycle these in a supermarket plastic bag recycling thing along with other plastic bags and supermarket packaging that we get from other places. Would you rather we gave them back to you for recycling?

  2. How about egg boxes – do you want them back? I must admit I’ve been returning everything, so I’ll make sure I’m more selective in future.

  3. I try, I try and I try. This is a two way street – can you incentivise your drivers to collect boxes please? I religiously put them out every week and inevitably end up with them being left next to the full box, sometimes 3 or 4 old ones at a time! A short terse note attached to the old boxes seems to be the only way of getting our delivery driver to take the boxes away. Come on Guy, we will do our thing, if you can encourage your team to do theirs …

  4. I tried returning the plastic bags, but my distributor asked me not to!

  5. I would love to return my boxes and packaging, but considering the boxes of our complex are routinely left at the concierge whether we are home or not it makes it hard.

  6. My Driver/Distributor is reliable as anything when it comes down to collecting boxes. It makes my life easier as I cannot take them back to them and it works better this way. The boxes are subject to endless recycling and I have a very good relationship with Riverford as a result.

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