Many environmentally-conscious people take it upon themselves to recycle plastic and glass bottles to reduce their carbon footprint. However, it's large corporations that contribute to plastic waste the most, which means even the smallest reduction in waste can make a pretty big difference. So when Walmart says it will no longer supply English cucumbers wrapped in plastic, it's a bigger deal than it may seem.
Now, at select Walmart locations, the produce section will feature English cucumbers supplied by Houweling's Group thanks to a partnership with the company, Apeel. Cucumbers from Apeel aren't packaged with plastic, a method that many vegetable producers use to help increase fresh produce's shelf-life. Instead, Apeel cucumbers are engineered to have a protective peel that's edible and made from plants—not chemicals. (Related: 8 Grocery Items That May Soon Be in Short Supply)
An Apeel cucumber will last two to three times longer than a cucumber that isn't wrapped in single-use plastic. Not only does this type of cucumber not require any plastic, but it also helps to prevent food waste as it doesn't oxidize as quickly with that additional protective coating. And, for every 500,000 cases shopped, Houweling's and Apeel will effectively eliminate the equivalent of 820,000 single-use plastic water bottles out of the supply chain.
"From the first time we reviewed the potential of plastic-free cucumbers, we saw the opportunity and the challenge of bringing avante garde technology to market. From a high-level, the opportunity to lead a disruption in this category and improve our decorated sustainability profile put us on course to where we are today," said Kevin Doran, Houweling's Group President and CEO in a statement.
With Walmart supplying almost 25% of the country's fresh produce supply to customers across the nation, removing English cucumbers with plastic coatings in select locations is one step toward keeping plastic out of landfills and reducing food waste.