Soy-waxed boxes a greener way to ship groceries 

Waxy cardboard boxes are widely used to ship iced vegetables and poultry products to grocery stores. Because these paraffin-coated products can’t be recycled or repulped, most are landfilled—about 3 billion pounds worth each year.

Using soybean oil, researchers in Iowadeveloped a greener, safer, more sustainable alternative coating with the potential to replace petroleum-based paraffin and microcrystalline wax, a $1.4 billion market in the U.S. and $3.2 billion global market. Cardboard boxes made with this soy-based biocoating can be recycled or repulped.

The researchers also are developing a soy-based wax with antimicrobial properties to reduce spoilage of fresh produce during postharvest handling and storage. With better packaging and coating of fresh produce, the amount of food wasted in the U.S.—an estimated 30% to 40%—can be reduced while enhancing quality, safety and shelf-life of foods.