(June 25, 3:00 p.m.) IFCO Systems NA’s reusable plastic containers have become the first produce packaging to be allowed for use in organic production, as determined by the Organic Materials Review Institute.

Houston-based IFCO’s reusable plastic containers (RPCs) qualified for use in organic production under the Organic Materials Review Institute’s Processing Containers and Packaging Materials class, and are now listed on the institute’s products list, said Miguel Guerrero, the Eugene, Ore.-based institute’s marketing director.

The RPCs were placed on the Products List April 23, signifying the containers meet the institute’s Standards and Policy Manuals, which are founded on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, said Hillary Whyard, IFCO’s marketing manager.

“Our organic customers have to go through a rigorous process and meet very strict standards to receive the distinction of being organic,” Whyard said. “To support our customers and their commitment to quality, we owe it to them to not compromise their hard work.”

To receive approval for use in organic production, the RPCs were subjected to stringent review, such as evaluation of the materials used in manufacturing and their wash process, including chemicals involved. Various documentation also had to be provided, Whyard said.

“We were the first packaging material of any kind to have undergone this process,” Whyard said of the institute’s review, which took about a year. “It was a learning process for us and them.”

The Organic Materials Review Institute introduced an application and evaluation program for the Processing Containers and Packaging Materials category about a year ago, and the review process typically takes six months, Guerrero said.

IFCO did not have to alter any of its RPC production and washing procedures to earn its recognition from the institute, Whyard said.

Organics group gives go ahead to IFCO’s RPCs
Reusable plastic containers (RPCs) made by IFCO Systems NA, Houston, may now be used in organic production. The Eugene, Ore.-based Organic Materials Review Institute qualified the RPCs for such use after a stringent review process.