Horticulture Week Business Award - Business Innovation of the Year

Winner - The road to Modiform's EcoExpert

Image: Modiform
Image: Modiform

Modiform develops and produces growing, transport and packaging systems for the horticultural sector and beyond. The family company has been upcycling materials into high-quality and distinctive products and concepts since it was founded in Holland in 1980. By 2020, it aims to be the prime partner that companies approach when they have new ideas or want to develop products or concepts.

Around four years ago, Modiform felt that packaging systems could be easily recycled by retailers and consumers. It also noticed a problem in the way plastic was being handled after use. Modiform experimented with different plastics for a potential new generation of products.

EcoExpert division Leader Shaun Herdsman says the fruit and vegetable sector was starting to use moulded paper to cushion, protect, transport and sell produce. Modiform tested the moulded paper material with growers and retailers over two years, concentrating mainly on plant pots.

The pots worked in machinery, grew a good plant, looked good at retail and could be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. But the EcoExpert plant pot did not look good at the retailer, so Modiform concentrated on developing transport trays for horticulture.

The standard plastic transport tray is only handled two-to-three times during its use. Retailers would normally bundle these trays up and pay for them to be sent to a recycler to go to China for disposal, but exports of waste material from the EU to China stopped from 1 January.

Modiform launched EcoExpert pots at IPM 2018 for the retail and consumer stage of supply. The plants are grown in plastic trays or pots and then transplanted into EcoExpert pots on despatch. This makes the presentation of the plant look great because it has a new pot.

The pots and trays are 100% recycled, 100% recyclable through current kerbside collection systems, 100% compostable, water-resistant, strong and consumer- and retail-friendly.

Modiform notes that horticulture is seen by the public as "green" yet the industry uses plastic for everything. By introducing EcoExpert, the company is trying to make the industry greener, both in look and feel, as well as helping the environment.

There are currently five EcoExpert products available — four trays and one pot — with future plans to further increase the range.

Highly commended

  • Centre of Excellence project, Majestic Trees

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