(CORRECTED) WENATCHEE, Wash. — Macro Plastics used the Northwest Horticultural Expo to introduce the Hybrid 44 bin that combines the best attributes of wood and plastic.
He said he first came up with the concept more than a year and a half ago as a way to allow the Fairfield, Calif.-based company to better compete on price with wooden bins.
Until the mid-2000s, plastic bins cost less than $100 apiece, and many major packers were converting over from wood because of plastic’s ease of sanitation.
When petroleum prices spiked, the price of the plastic used in bins shot up, Hale said. As a result, the cost of plastic bins jumped to about 2.5 times more than wood.
That essentially shut down many of the packers’ conversion plans, he said.
The Hybrid 44 involves a plastic bin that comes in contact with the produce and can be easily sanitized.
All of the external structural parts that used to be plastic, such as the frame and legs, have been replaced with wood.
“But plastic provides really good ventilation, and it cleans up well for food safety. This gives us the best of both.”
The Hybrid 44 also is 44 inches wide, allowing two to be put side by side in an 89-inch-wide reefer container.
This opens up the opportunity to use it for importing fruit from Chile and other countries, he said.
The bin comes in three versions: assembled, as a kit with the wood frame and legs, and as just the bin. The last option allows packers to build a leg height and configuration of their own choosing.
(Note on correction: The article originally contained a quote with incorrect information on the strength of plastic vs. wood.)