Solidus Solutions

Can tomatoes be recycled too?

Posted on 09 February 2016.

In the Netherlands, Solidus Solutions sells cartons made from tomato plant leftovers for packing… tomatoes! A real virtuous circle that makes the most of organic waste.

The idea comes from a handful of fruit and vegetable producers in Westland, a region in the west of the Netherlands. A few years ago, they got together to think of ways of making use of the enormous quantities of green waste from tomato cultivation; kilos and kilos of stems, leaves and flowers that accumulate near greenhouses and fields at the end of each harvest in autumn. Why not use it all to produce ecological packaging? Solidus Solutions, a Dutch company specializing in the production of 100% recyclable cardboard packaging, decided to team up with them and bring their idea to life. Together they devised a very special type of cardboard, made with the usual wood fiber along with tomato plant fiber.

The project began in 2014. At the end of the season, more than 85 000 metric tonnes of plant waste were "harvested" from dozens of market gardeners in Westland! Once recovered, the remains of the tomato plants are chopped up and then ground. The fibers obtained by grinding are mixed with wood fibers from recycled paper, newspapers and cardboard in order to produce boards and then cardboard pallets for packaging between 700g and 5kg of tomatoes. As strong as conventional packaging, these palettes contain between 15 and 20% tomato plant fibers and can be recycled up to seven times. And Solidus Solutions has no intention of stopping there! The company now wants to make use of the remains of other plants such as peppers and cucumbers. Meanwhile, several local producers have been attracted by the initiative, including Duijvestijn Tomaten, which grows organic tomatoes and Harvest House, a farming association specializing in fruits and vegetables.