Trying to make cabbage packing and shipping more efficiently and help retailers deal with less wax, a leading central Florida grower-shipper is adopting a new box style.

Wimauma, Fla.-based Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC is working with Memphis, Tenn.-based International Paper on a box design that is promoted as durable as well as environmentally conscious, according to an International Paper news release.

Hearne is International Paper’s first cabbage customer to ship in the new box.

The trademarked DuraPack carton is a recyclable cardboard box that is not wax-coated and does not require special handling by retailers who must separate waxed cartons from regular dry boxes during disposal, said Jeff Williams, Hearne’s president.

Because growers typically shed-pack cabbage from a wagon, growers traditionally pack cabbage in wax-coated cartons.

Williams said the 50-pound net 1 7/8-bushel cardboard cabbage box holds the same capacity as its waxed brother, but is more user-friendly.

“This box is easier for our customers,” Williams said. “One big advantage is we don’t have to worry about any increases or fluctuations in the price of the crude-based petroleum product, which is a crapshoot anyway. This one is more ‘green’ than other boxes and the customers tell us they like it.”

He said Hearne got positive results when it tested the box last season in its Florida and Georgia production.

Williams said Hearne tested an earlier version of the box several years ago but said results were disappointing and said it took too long to construct.

In shedding the wax’s petroleum cost, he said he expects to experience up to 30% in annual savings.

“When HPC (Hearne) approached us, they stated their objective was to design a package to ship cabbage that is 100% recyclable and will hold up during tough handling and shipping conditions,” Edwin Bowen, an International Paper salesman, said in the release.

Williams said Hearne plans to pack at least half of its cabbage in the new boxes and may eventually increase that usage to 100%.