NYC's Fresh Direct Promises To Go Green

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Fresh Direct will stop using cardboard delivery boxes. They'll use recyclable totes and bags instead. Seems like a big improvement, right?

Bummer is that Fresh Direct will take up to three years to make the change. "Switching our systems will involve a complex re-engineering process," Fresh Direct explained in an email they sent to customers yesterday.

"We believe these efforts will drastically reduce our use of cardboard and eliminate any challenges we currently face with under-packed boxes," the email said. (Speaking of "underpacked boxes", Fresh Direct sent us a solo half-gallon of milk in a huge cardboard box on Thursday.)

Some Streetsblog commenters smell "spin" while others are commend parts of the plan.

What do you make of Fresh Direct's promises "to act as responsible environmental stewards and to work toward better serving our neighborhood." We've posted their five-point plan after the jump ...

posted originally from: AT:Kitchen1. CUTTING EMISSIONS FROM OUR DELIVERY TRUCKS.
We love that our trucks have become a mass transit system for food, each one replacing the many cars and cabs that would otherwise be used to bring families and food together. We're committed to making our trucks as clean-burning and low-impact as possible.

FreshDirect has partnered with Tri-State Biodiesel, a NYC-based company dedicated to providing the region with clean, renewable biodiesel sources. Tri-State uses cooking oil donated from our kitchen for use in non-toxic diesel fuel. In the next year, we plan to initiate biodiesel use in 100% of our delivery fleet. This action will both reduce emissions and cut back our use of fossil fuel products.

Additionally, we are working with the city to identify locations for electrical outlets so we can plug in our trucks and refrigerate using electric engines. We hope to have our first plug-in truck in mid-2008.

2. REDUCING THE AMOUNT OF WASTE WE PRODUCE.
We recently switched our delivery boxes in favor of boxes that use 100% recycled fiber content - no virgin fibers are needed in any FreshDirect box. We're proud to announce that within the next 3 years, we'll eliminate nearly all of our cardboard delivery boxes, replacing them with recyclable plastic totes and grocery bags. Since our facility was designed with cardboard boxes in mind, switching our systems will involve a complex re-engineering process. We believe these efforts will drastically reduce our use of cardboard and eliminate any challenges we currently face with under-packed boxes.

3. FEEDING OUR NEEDIEST NEIGHBORS.
We work hard to make sure that surplus food doesn't go to waste. Accordingly, FreshDirect is one of City Harvest's largest food suppliers, helping them to feed New York's neediest. We were recognized this year for "extraordinary dedication," and we intend to maintain that level of commitment.

4. INCREASING THE AMOUNT OF LOCAL PRODUCTS WE SELL.
Forging partnerships with good people doing good work has been a FreshDirect hallmark for years, and few companies sell more local products. Buying from farms, orchards, dairies and fisheries in the Tri-state area reduces the use of fossil fuels, supports artisanal craftsmanship and stimulates our local economy. During the next year, we will further extend our commitment to local producers and work to bring you even more options for locally-based eating.

5. PROVIDING EVEN MORE INFORMATION TO HELP CUSTOMERS MAKE INFORMED CHOICES.
Environmental choices are often complicated, highly personal decisions. That's why FreshDirect believes in offering customers the opportunity to make informed choices for themselves and their families. We will continue to deliver on that commitment by looking for new ways to deliver quality food alongside thorough information. In the coming year, we'll work to increase our selection of fish certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. And by the end of 2007, our Seafood Department will display the sustainability status on each product.

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